It’s fun to see robots blowing each other up, get a cheap scare from a horror movie or a good laugh out of a comedy, but no sensation can compare to that of a dissonant drama with the power to feel real. Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried provide Erin Cressida Wilson’s script with an intense breath of authenticity guaranteeing you feel the pain inflicted upon their characters by the plot’s extreme circumstances. Making Chloe even more potent, those conditions are especially unnerving.
Catherine (Julianne Moore) has a pleasant life. Her son’s (Max Thieriot) in the midst of a rebellious stage, but otherwise, thing are going quite well. She lives in a beautiful home and has a successful gynecological practice. But that all changes when her husband (Liam Neeson) ‘misses’ his flight home, causing her to suspect he’s cheating on him. A chance encounter with a call girl, Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), leads her to make an arrangement for Chloe to meet with David in order to see if he’s as dubious as she suspects.
Chloe proceeds as told and continuously convenes with David and reports back to Catherine with the extremely descriptive juicy details. Turns out, this is far more than Catherine bargained for. While struggling with the new reality and her own out-of-character desires, she watches helplessly as her life crumbles around her and is forced to question the things she thought she loved.
Now that’s putting it mildly. Chloe is intense in every sense of the word. From the moment the film begins, Moore is oozing with emotion. Everything from her dialogue down to her facial expressions conveys the deep suffering her character is enduring. Then, there’s Seyfried who successfully shows yet another type of character she has the ability to portray. Chloe is as far from Karen in Mean Girls, Sophie in Mamma Mia! and Needy in Jennifer’s Body as you can get. Despite her questionable occupation, Seyfried instantly establishes a sense of trust and endearment making Chloe inquisitively likeable.
It’s not Moore’s chemistry with Neeson nor Seyfried’s connection to the leading man (if that’s the way you suspect the story turns) that holds the most weight. The most pressing relationship is the one between Catherine and Chloe and that affiliation takes on many forms. What begins as a business arrangement slowly becomes more as Moore’s character warms up to Seyfried’s. From there, it’s peppered with a hint of aversion as Catherine tries to come to terms with Chloe’s excessive persistence towards both her husband and herself.
Catherine’s relationship with Chloe isn’t the film’s only chameleon. As Chloe’s pushiness grows more trying, the movie itself develops into a bit of a thriller. Director Atom Egoyan successfully takes a mildly disconcerting notion and builds upon it into a downright troubling situation. Catherine’s situation is growing graver and you can feel it. By the time the film reaches its pinnacle, it’s become an edge-of-the-seat thriller sans action.
Unfortunately, some may catch on rather quickly, tarnishing the effect of the ever-increasing anxiety. But what gives Chloe a shot, even for the moviegoer that attempts to stay a step ahead, is that it doesn’t solely rely on its big reveals. In fact, at times, knowing what’s coming and having the time to fully digest the eeriness of the situation only adds to the aftermath.
These off-putting occurrences keep Chloe from being favorable, but the film is still immensely likable as a curious story that effectively creates a desperation to know how it ends. This permits Egoyan to bend the rules and color outside the lines. At times, this extra effort fails, but a pre-established interest brings the audience back for more. Failed moments like an ineffective scene during which Catherine dines with a group of girlfriends, are like commercials during a great TV show; they hold no bearing and once the viewer joins the story, it’s like he or she never left.