Chloe [Blu-Ray] Atom Egoyan

Chloe [Blu-Ray] Atom Egoyan
"The most fascinating thing about a camera," says Atom Egoyan in a documentary on the belated Chloe Blu-Ray release, "is that what it is capturing in front of a lens is as explicit as all of the energies that are being felt by the people behind the camera." This comes just a few seconds after he states, "There is a concentration and a curiosity and a fascination that I have with these characters, which harnesses and creates in their performances a rhythm." Pronouncements like these tend to sound a tad ponderous to begin with, but when delivered from the living room of a startlingly tasteful house and applied to an unsubtle erotic thriller like Chloe, Egoyan, bathed in shadow and a few feet away from a sculpture, looks a little like a caricature of a Serious Artiste. For all his efforts to brand himself as one of the most cerebral mainstream filmmakers, it's sometimes surprising how didactic and unambiguous Egoyan's recent films were, and Chloe ham-fistedly announces its high-mindedness in the opening scene: Amanda Seyfried, as the titular high-end prostitute, dimly lit while putting on clothes and makeup, delivers an existential monologue via voiceover. "I can become your first kiss or a torn-out image from a Playboy magazine. Am I your secretary or am I your daughter? I can become a living, breathing, unflinching dream and then I can actually disappear." With ominous remarks like these, it's not hard to predict the emotional chaos that will ensue when Catherine (Julianne Moore), a middle-aged gynaecologist, hires Chloe to see how easily her husband (Liam Neeson) can be tempted into having an affair. It's becoming increasingly apparent that Egoyan is better as a cinematic sensualist than an intellectual, and while Chloe is never very convincing when it tries to get philosophical on the nature of prostitution ("I try to find something to love in everybody," she actually says), for the first hour it is absorbing and erotic in a way that recalls Exotica (1994). Much of the pleasure comes from the way Egoyan shoots Toronto: the icy coldness of the exteriors and the sterile, aggressively swanky interiors (in Yorkville, the Windsor Arms and other high-end areas) contrast erotically with the ripe flesh tones of Moore and Seyfried ― that Egoyan often films the two women while they're red from crying actually enhances the sensuality. It's easy to laugh at some of the more over-the-top moments (Moore rubbing her legs together while Seyfried describes a sexual encounter; a Cinemax-level sex scene in Allen Gardens), but Egoyan's depiction of an aging marriage has an uncomfortable ring of truth, and it's hard to deny the erotic charge of some of the more sexually explicit moments. It's a genuine disappointment, then, that Chloe implodes so totally in its last third, when the erotic tension gives way to a ludicrously trashy action finale, featuring some unfortunate overacting from Seyfried and some even less fortunate dialogue. By the time a character actually yells, "Look at me… Look at me!!!" during sex, it's clear that Egoyan and company have lost any connection with the real world. The best Blu-Ray extra is The Strange Case of Atom Egoyan, a feature-length, reverse-chronological analysis of his films, featuring extensive and sometimes maddeningly pretentious interviews with the man. Other extras include a commentary and a making-of. None of these answer a lingering question: if Neeson is a University of Toronto Faculty of Music professor, wouldn't it be a tad inconvenient for him to choose Café Diplomatico as his daily lunch spot? (eOne)