A young man is plunged into a life of subterfuge, deceit and mistaken identity in pursuit of a femme fatale whose heart is never quite within his grasp. Remake of François Truffaut's 1969 film 'Mississippi Mermaid'
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. Written by
'I must find something, no matter how small, that I can love...'
Atom Egoyan ('The Sweet Hereafter', 'Ararat', 'Where the Truth Lies') has a gift for setting up cinematic surveillance of private encounters and studying the results of an incident on everyone witnessing it. In CHLOE he has engaged the services of Erin Cressida Wilson to adapt the French film NATHALIE by Anne Fontaine to place it on this side of the pond. In the French version the successful actors were Fanny Ardant, Emmanuelle Béart, and Gérard Depardieu: for this version Egoyan has an equally superb cast to carry off this mysterious story with great success. The same question arises in both films: 'what is imagined and what is real?', and it is the getting there that makes this film so fascinating.
Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore) is a gynecologist married to the successful professor of music David (Liam Neeson) and they have a stay-at-home hippie son Michael (Max Thieriot) who goes about his life much the same as his parents: there is superficial companionship but little in depth relationship. The marriage seems satisfactory until Catherine plans a surprise birthday party for David, a party David doesn't attend, and Catherine suspects David of having affairs, a fact that David apparently suggests by his flirtations with waitresses and 'help'. Catherine is shocked, but realizes that as she is aging this may be a normal situation in older marriages.
Catherine visits a bar, a private club for assignations, and there she meets Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) and eventually buys Chloe's services as a prostitute to meet her husband and then tell her all about the encounters. It is agreed that Chloe will be paid for her services and only go as far as Catherine instructs. From this point on Catherine and Chloe meet after Chloe has encounters with David and describes the acts of the encounters in vivid and lurid detail. Catherine is fascinated and continues to pay Chloe for on going encounters and subsequent voyeuristic descriptions. Catherine even has a one-night stand of her own with Chloe in an attempt to understand her husband's need for infidelity.
Despite the setup of 'private investigator and prostitute detective' the two women become friends. When Catherine realizes she has enough evidence against David to leave him there is a final encounter of the three (Catherine, David, Chloe, and even son Michael) that brings the ingenious surprise ending - an ending too fine to share as it would spoil the film for viewers new to the story. Each of the actors does a star turn - Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried, and Liam Neeson - and once again Atom Egoyan takes an implausible story and makes us think.
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