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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Chloe



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#1 of 7 Richard Gallagher

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Posted July 11 2010 - 12:17 PM

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Chloe

 

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics

Year: 2009

Rated: R

Program Length: 99 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p

Languages: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, English, French

 

The Program

 

I guess I’ve always been pretty good with words. In my line of business, it’s as important to be able to describe what I’m doing as it is to do what I’m doing.

 

Atom Egoyan’s Chloe is a generally faithful remake of the 2003 French film Nathalie. It is a highly erotic tale of infidelity, jealousy, and obsession which is marred by an abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion. The premise is certainly promising. A gynecologist in Toronto, Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore), is hurt and embarrassed when her college professor husband, David (Liam Neeson), fails to return from a trip to New York in time to attend a surprise birthday party which she has planned for him. Her disappointment turns into suspicion when she discovers a suggestive instant message on his cell phone which was sent by one of his female students. David has a habit of flirting with attractive females, whether they are his students or waitresses. The spark has long since gone out of their marriage, and Catherine decides that she must find out if David is cheating on her.

 

Catherine becomes aware of a beautiful prostitute, Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), who lives in an apartment building near Catherine’s office. She arranges a meeting with Chloe and offers her a most unusual proposal – she wants Chloe to come on to David and see how willing he is to succumb to her charms. Chloe is to report to Catherine with details on every meeting she has with David. The first encounter takes place in David’s favorite coffee shop, but it proves to be relatively innocuous. Catherine encourages Chloe to meet with David again, and afterwards Chloe reports, in the kind of explicit language which one might find in a romance novel, that the relationship has turned sexual. Chloe reports each subsequent tryst with David in increasingly graphic detail, to the point where Catherine begins to be aroused by the young prostitute.

 

A sub-plot involving David and Catherine’s son, Michael (Max Thieriot), is not particularly compelling. Michael has a strained relationship with Catherine, for reasons which are fully explained only in one of the deleted scenes. Michael is introduced as a talented music student, but the portrayal of him by Max Thieriot is so bland that there is no particular reason to care about him. This is unfortunate because the film’s climactic scene involves Michael, and it may have worked better if he were a more compelling character.

 

Julianne Moore, who has taken a number of sexually-charged roles during her career, turns in a typically excellent performance as the tormented and conflicted Catherine (at one point Catherine is so obsessed by the relationship between David and Chloe that her friends begin to suspect that she is having an affair). Amanda Seyfried is intriguing as the title character, a woman whose motives and intentions are never entirely clear. There is one intensely erotic scene involving Catherine and Chloe which the viewer will not likely forget anytime soon. Liam Neeson does a fine job as the middle-aged, possibly philandering husband who is alternately tender and dismissive toward his wife.

 

In addition to its curious ending, the major flaw in this film is a plot twist which viewers are likely to anticipate before it is revealed. Nevertheless, Atom Egoyan is an accomplished filmmaker, and even his failures have much to recommend them. Chloe is not entirely satisfying, but it certainly is intriguing.

 

The Video

 

Much of Chloe was filmed on location in Toronto, and this 1.85:1 1080p transfer by Sony does justice to Paul Sarossy’s beautiful cinematography. There is some softness in the images, but this appears to be a deliberate artistic choice by the filmmakers. The picture has retained a moderate and appropriate level of film grain, giving it a very pleasing film-like appearance. Colors and flesh tones are accurate, and shadow detail is fine in the many scenes which take place at night or in low lighting. The Toronto exteriors are utilized to excellent effect and they accurately represent the way the city looked when I last visited there a couple of years ago. Viewers will note that mirrors and window reflections are used extensively. Sony rarely disappoints with its Blu-ray releases, and this one is no exception.

 

The Audio

 

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack has little in it to blow the viewer away, but it is more than up to what is required of it. There is not much for the subwoofer to do, but the surround channels are effectively utilized to convey realistic ambient sounds. The dialogue is mostly confined to the center channels and it is clear and understandable. The musical soundtrack by Mychael Danna is suitably evocative and is nicely reproduced here.

 

The Supplements

 

The extras on this Blu-ray disc include a commentary track by Atom Egoyan, Amanda Seyfried and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson. Their discussion is quite frank, and this is the first commentary which I can recall in which the word “jism” is used. Screenwriter Wilson helpfully explains some of the alterations she made to the original script for Nathalie.

 

Also included is a “making of” featurette entitled “Introducing Chloe: The Making of Chloe Directed by Atom Egoyan.” The principal actors participate, as well as producer Ivan Reitman, director Egoyan and screenwriter Wilson. It has a running time of approximately 26 minutes.

 

There are two deleted scenes. In the first one, Chloe talks to Catherine about her childhood and her relationship with her estranged mother. The second scene involves Michael telling Chloe the background details surrounding his anger with his mother.

 

Sony also has included the original theatrical trailer for Chloe, as well as trailers for The Runaways, The Square, The Secret in Their Eyes, A Single Man, A Prophet, Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, the upcoming Starz mini-series The Pillars of Earth, and the first season of the television series Damages.  

 

As usual, BD-Live features will be enabled on the release date.

 

The Packaging

 

The single disc comes in a standard Blu-ray keep case.

 

The Final Analysis

 

This is an intriguing and kinky erotic thriller which does not quite live up to its promise. However, it is extremely well-made and boasts some impressive acting, so it is worth a look if you keep in mind the caveats which have been mentioned.

 

Equipment used for this review:

 

Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player

Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specifications by Gregg Loewen

Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver

BIC Acoustech speakers

Interconnects: Monster Cable

 

Release Date: July 13, 2010


Rich Gallagher

#2 of 7 TonyD

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Posted July 11 2010 - 03:52 PM

Richard good review, and by that I mean I agree with everything you wrote.


I was dissapointed by the  end and couldn't figure out what was so terrible about the sons life that caused him to want to leave and react to his parents that way.


Amanda Seyfried seemed to young for the character.


I like to watch movies made by Atom Egoyan, i'm not sure I like the stories he tells.


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#3 of 7 Michael Reuben

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Posted July 11 2010 - 03:59 PM

Rich, you've done a great job of summarizing the film's strengths and weaknesses, all without major spoilers -- no mean feat! /img/vbsmilies/htf/thumbsup.gif


I've become convinced that Egoyan should only work from his own scripts, even if he's just adapting someone else's work (as in The Sweet Hereafter). This film felt like it wasn't entirely his, as if he were a director-for-hire (which was obviously not the case).


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#4 of 7 Richard Gallagher

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Posted July 12 2010 - 01:57 AM



Originally Posted by Michael Reuben 

Rich, you've done a great job of summarizing the film's strengths and weaknesses, all without major spoilers -- no mean feat! /img/vbsmilies/htf/thumbsup.gif


I've become convinced that Egoyan should only work from his own scripts, even if he's just adapting someone else's work (as in The Sweet Hereafter). This film felt like it wasn't entirely his, as if he were a director-for-hire (which was obviously not the case).


Thanks. Your point about the script is a good one. In fact, during the commentary there are a couple of points during which Egoyan and Wilson apparently were not on the same page about what certain aspects of the script were supposed to mean.


Rich Gallagher

#5 of 7 Colin Jacobson

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Posted July 12 2010 - 02:48 AM

I'm curious: what's the obvious plot twist that you mean?  Is it



when we learn that Chloe and the Neeson character never had a relationship?


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#6 of 7 Richard Gallagher

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Posted July 13 2010 - 05:06 PM



Originally Posted by Colin Jacobson 

I'm curious: what's the obvious plot twist that you mean?  Is it



That's it, but I didn't actually call it "obvious." I just believe that many people will suspect it before it is revealed. So to me, at least, it wasn't as surprising as intended.


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#7 of 7 Marko Berg

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Posted July 14 2010 - 08:03 AM

Thanks a lot for the review, Richard, it is much appreciated.







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