Thursday, October 22, 2009

London FIlm Fest Day 9 - CHLOE

Atom Egoyan's latest film, CHLOE, treads familiar territory - sexual jealousy, paranoia and the transgressive desires that rock mainstream marriages. Julianne Moore plays a successful gynecologist (of course!) who suspects her flirtatious husband (Liam Neeson) of cheating. As in the laughably dissimilar EXTRACT, she tests him by setting him with a beautiful young prostitute (Amanda Seyfried evidently trying to shake off that MAMMA MIA! wholesomeness). In contrast to the more simplistic French source film, NATALIE, Egoyan and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson (SECRETARY) keep us guessing as to whether the husband is really cheating, or whether he is the victim of his wife's insecurity. We also have a classic Egoyan relationship between the wife and the prostitute: is the wife really falling for the hooker, or is she just trying to get close to her husband in a really fracked up way? And is the hooker really falling for the wife, or is she just being emotionally or indeed financially manipulative?

I really loved this film. Moore gives a strong central performance as a woman d'un certain age in a crisis, and Seyfried is convincing both as seductress and vulnerable young girl. They sell their relationship, and that makes the film. I also love the very particular production design from Phillip Barker, and the locations chosen - in particular the marital home. The wife is, by virtue of architecture mirroring her psyche, a voyeur, condemned to look through picture windows and listen at doors and stare at reflections. It works wonderfully.

CHLOE played Toronto 2009 and will be released in France in March 2010.

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