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Catherine and David, she a doctor, he a professor, are at first glance the perfect couple. Happily married with a talented teenage son, they appear to have an idyllic life. But when David misses a flight and his surprise birthday party, Catherine's long simmering suspicions rise to the surface. Suspecting infidelity, she decides to hire an escort to seduce her husband and test his loyalty. Catherine finds herself 'directing' Chloe's encounters with David, and Chloe's end of the bargain is to report back, the descriptions becoming increasingly graphic as the meetings multiply.
For more about Chloe and the Chloe Blu-ray release, see Chloe Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 14, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried, Max Thieriot, Nina Dobrev, R.H. Bassett
Director: Atom Egoyan
» See full cast & crew
Chloe Blu-ray Review
Atom Egoyan follows up 'Adoration' with another incredible motion picture.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 14, 2010
I can become your living, breathing, unflinching dream.
Mystery. Emotion. Sex. Pain. Tragedy. These are the hallmark elements of Director Atom Egoyan's (Adoration) latest work of art, Chloe. Chloe is classic Egoyan; it's another independent low-budget stunner of a motion picture from the director, the movie jaw-droppingly crafted with an effortlessness and ease that seems to erase the boundary between film and audience. Egoyan demonstrates here and in his other films an uncanny ability to immerse his viewers into a story, no matter the specifics of the plot. Whether painful drama, alluring eroticism, or unnerving intrigue, Egoyan finds the perfect balance in his films, engaging his audience and inviting them into his stories rather than simply showing his viewers a series of related images that just so happen to construct a fictional premise with a traditional beginning, middle, and end three-act structure. Chloe isn't a perfect movie, though; its ending feels like a rushed afterthought that isn't befitting the rest of the film, and in lesser hands, it could have ruined the entire experience. In Egoyan's, though, it seems more like an inconvenience rather than a deal breaker. There's so much good about Chloe that it easily trumps the bad, and the film is worth watching if for no other reason than for the chance to witness one of cinema's premiere craftsmen at work.
Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore, A Single Man) is a well-to-do gynecologist, married to college professor David Stewart (Liam Neeson, Batman Begins). When David fails to return home in time for a surprise birthday party, Catherine is disappointed, but her disappointment turns to suspicion when she begins to believe that he's become distant and absent from home more than she'd like because he's chosen to become an unfaithful husband. Catherine has a chance encounter with a prostitute named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried, Mamma Mia!), and she ultimately approaches Chloe with a proposition: catch the eye her husband and find out whether he can remain faithful. Chloe does as she's paid to do and reports back that their singular encounter has turned into several, each becoming more sexually charged than the previous, culminating in explicit sexual acts between David and a girl he barely knows. As Catherine becomes more upset, she finds herself drawn closer to Chloe's allure, leading to a situation that quickly spirals out of control, revealing mistrusts, deceptions, falsehoods, and dangerous physical and emotional elements with longterm repercussions for all involved.
Chloe is a picture of contrasts that serve to visually, thematically, emotionally, and even, it seems -- by way of both abstract and unspoken suggestion -- surreptitiously play with the audience's concept of where the film is going, what it means, who is who, and how the story will play out. Most obvious is the contrast between Chloe and Catherine. Catherine's a highly intelligent woman with a keen insight into the human psyche; she's a doctor that treats women's most intimate areas and no doubt, as demonstrated by one scene, learns of and discusses their deepest personal secrets. Physically, she's the definition of homely, with pale skin, freckles, a comparatively flat figure, and showing her age. On the other hand is Chloe, a young, spry, shapely girl; it would seem the only thing she shares with Catherine is her intimate knowledge of the human body and the unabashed way she speaks of it, though she does so with a different purpose and allure. It's the back-and-forth between these two characters that defines the film; Egoyan and Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson create a dynamic whereby the audience becomes completely absorbed into the story and buys everything that's said and done at face value, only to have identities shattered, realities altered, and audience perceptions fooled several times over from beginning to end. Moore and Seyfried completely disappear into their respective parts, with Moore in particular admirably going through the film appearing haggard, tired, angry, and on the verge of tears while still retaining an eroticism that heightens the film and sells its topsy-turvy second half.
Additionally, Chloe builds itself on further contrasts that seem less obvious on the surface but certainly enhance the strength of the story. This is a film of mystery, of lies, of deceit, of distrust, of confused identities, of mistaken priorities, of clandestine rendezvous, of unscrupulous actions. These elements lend an unmistakably dark, closed-in, unwelcoming, and unsure atmosphere. By contrast, Atom Egoyan creates an atmosphere that's, visually, the opposite of those elements and, by extension, they manage to counter the negative with an underlying positive. The Stewart's home is large but boxy; the open floor plan makes it appear without too many boundaries, while soaring windows create a sense of openness not only physically and visually but psychologically. Likewise, Catherine's gynecological office is itself a relatively large and open structure. An oversized window allows a clear line of sight from the waiting room into the office, while the door is solid only about the frame, while the majority of its interior surface, too, is comprised of glass. For an area where women go to share their most intimate problems and personal areas, it's open and inviting to an undeniable fault. Additionally, almost everything in both the office and the home -- aside from Julianne Moore's fiery red hair -- is white, from her walls and desk to her iBook computer. It immediately symbolizes purity and cleanliness at a psychological level, both, of course -- and the former in particular -- contrary to the picture's overriding elements. Privacy seems at a premium in both locations by design, even though the movie is about invasions of privacy and wanted and unwanted advances into personal spaces. The symbolism seems clear; everything about the film's environments suggest that this is a world where secrets cannot exists or where innocence cannot be sacrificed in the name of temptation and human fallibility. It shows that nothing in this world is impossible, that looks are most definitely deceiving, and that nothing can be trusted to remain as it is or do as it promises.
Aside from its thematic and psychological over- and undertones, Chloe works extraordinarily well from a technical perspective. Egoyan's artistry is undeniable, and to say that he gets the best out of his actors is an understatement. Moore's and Seyfried's emotional and physical performances, as noted above, are standouts. They embrace the picture's erotic elements, even though Chloe is, at its core, much more than an Erotic Thriller. They handle the picture's explicit and frank sexual dialogue and intimate scenes marvelously, neither holding anything back while also retaining the picture's primary elements that keep it grounded firmly as an emotionally-charged dramatic picture with Thriller and Erotica components. Seyfried proves herself a wonderfully diverse actress, showing a complexity that's absent in lighthearted fare like Letters to Juliet and a darker element that's absent even in the emotionally-charged and dramatically-involved Dear John. Liam Neeson is excellent, too, capturing the film's spirit and playing along wonderfully with all the curveballs Egoyan throws at the audience. All of it -- the lead cast's performances and the visual and psychological contrasts that define the picture but also give it something of an uncertain and uneasy element that's arguably its greatest asset even beyond Egoyan's brilliantly enveloping and steady direction -- make Chloe a positively intoxicating and highly effective picture that's often difficult to watch but impossible to resist.
Chloe Blu-ray, Video Quality
Now that Blu-ray's pretty much gone mainstream and there are dozens or more pristine transfers out there, it's not often that a superlative like "breathtaking" applies -- particularly among more independent-minded films -- but Chloe's 1080p, 1.85:1-framed image is just that. There's nothing here that's a visual distraction or blatant flaw; blacks are wonderful, banding is absent, grain has been left intact, details are scrumptious, colors are balanced, and the print is free of any tangible blemishes. Indeed, the image is impeccably clear and detailed to an extent rarely seen even in the upper-tier Blu-ray transfers. Viewers will see with the utmost clarity and distinction every freckle on Julianne Moore's ghostly white face. Overhead city shots deliver almost unprecedented levels of detail, particularity when the image is showing paved streets, sidewalks, bricks, or clumps of plowed snow. Street-level shots impress, too, where items like worn chain link fences and the wrinkles and writings on flyers stapled to telephone poles reveal crystal-clear and abundantly sharp details. Colors are strong, too; whether a vibrant red dress or bright white office spaces, the transfer never stumbles on its way to delivering brilliantly rich colors. Even flesh tones appear wonderfully accurate, ranging from Julianne Moore's ghastly pale face to the more balanced shades as seen on Seyfried and Neeson. Likewise, blacks are incredibly rich, never overpowering the image and never appearing falsely bright and shallow. Chloe retains a rich and natural grain structure that puts the finishing touches on a transfer that's about as film-like as Blu-ray seems currently able to produce. A great film and one of the year's strongest transfers; what's not to love?
Chloe Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Sony escorts Chloe onto Blu-ray with a nicely-realized DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. For the most part, this film features a dialogue-heavy presentation; as such, it offers little in the way of the system-stretching sound effects and music that are generally reserved for more aggressive Action pictures. What's here, however, is generally excellent. Music enjoys a strong, flowing, effortless presentation as it spreads nicely throughout the entire soundstage with a good bit of surround support. Atmospherics both interior and exterior are generally seamless. A heavy downpour in one early scene is pleasantly engulfing, with occasional booms of thunder sending a nicely-delivered and natural rumble through the soundstage. Cars maneuver across the listening area with ease during several exterior shots, while light background music in a restaurant floats about the soundstage with a wonderfully soothing and realistic flair. Dialogue never falters in its front-and-center presentation. Chloe's soundtrack is made of very basic stuff, but Sony's lossless presentation squeezes every last bit of energy out of what's there, all of it crystal-clear and making for a wonderful accompaniment to a fantastic movie.
Chloe Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Chloe seduces viewers with a quality supplemental package, headlined by an audio commentary track with Actress Amanda Seyfried, Director Atom Egoyan, and Writer Erin Cressida Wilson. The trio deliver a relaxed but engaging commentary that's intelligent and well-spoken; they discuss the original French film Nathalie on which Chloe is based, character traits, film design elements, themes, shooting in Toronto, set design, the picture's score, anecdotes from the set (Moore and Seyfried occasionally had to stand on soapboxes next to the much taller Neeson), and plenty more. This a track that's absorbing and easy to become lost in; fans of the film and the talent involved in this track will want to give it a full listen. Introducing 'Chloe:' The Making of 'Chloe' Directed by Atom Egoyan (1080p, 25:42) features a broad array of cast and crew discussing the origins of the picture, its themes, the characters, costumes, shooting locations, the work of Atom Egoyan, the picture's explicit dialogue and visuals, and more. It's a strong but mostly basic overview of the picture that serves it well. Also included is BD-Live functionality; two deleted scenes (1080p, 5:23); the Chloe theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:01); and additional 1080p trailers for The Runaways, The Square, The Secret in Their Eyes, A Single Man, The PIllars of the Earth, A Prophet, Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, and "Damages."
Chloe Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It's a nice exercise to imagine the films Atom Egoyan might create were he to become a top-flight, high-paid director of big-budget studio films, but then reality sets in: why mess with a great thing? He's proven himself so capable in his niche -- small budget, independent-minded, and complexly-woven and precisely-assembled pictures on both visual and psychological levels -- that it would be almost criminal to ask him to be anything more, to do anything else, to ask him to be someone he's not. Simply stated, his movies are genius, soft and elegant living organisms that flow with an effortlessness that few, if any, directors can match. His films are a pleasure to behold, even if certain plot elements don't always hold up. That's the case with Chloe; the ending feels out of place, but the rest of the film is so intoxicating that it's easy to forget the choppy conclusion in favor of everything else the film has to offer, like the wonderful performances from Neeson, Moore, and Seyfried, which are just icing on the cake. Still, Chloe isn't for everyone. It's more of a connoisseur-type art film than it is a crowd-pleasing blockbuster despite its A-list cast, the picture building an uneasy atmosphere and pulling no punches through its blunt language, frank visuals, and unsettling tone. For the right audience, though, Chloe is a masterpiece of cinematic skill and craftsmanship on both sides of the camera; just don't let the ending ruin an otherwise brilliant effort. Sony's Blu-ray release of Chloe delivers a perfect 1080p transfer, a strong lossless soundtrack, and a fair assortment of extra content. For film aficionados, Atom Egoyan fans, and filmgoers who want to branch out beyond the typical summer Hollywood fare, Chloe comes highly recommended.
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Chloe Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Egoyan's Chloe Announced on Blu-ray - May 24, 2010
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the Atom Egoyan film Chloe for release on Blu-ray on July 13. This erotic thriller about a jealous wife who hires an escort girl to test the faithfulness of her husband is a remake of Nathalie, a 2004 French movie. ...
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