Sunday, May 22, 2011


Directed by Atom Egoyan.
2009. Rated R, 96 minutes.
Amanda Seyfried
Julianne Moore
Liam Neeson
Max Thierot
R. H. Thompson
Nina Dobrev
Mishu Vellani
Meghan Heffern

David (Neeson) is a college professor who often travels for speaking engagements. None too pleased about getting older, he purposely skips out on a flight home so he doesn’t have to celebrate his birthday with his wife Catherine (Moore). She, of course, has thrown him a surprise party. Guss who’s surprised. She figures out he went to dinner with some young, pretty co-eds. Combine this with his flirtations nature and the fact he likes to keep up with his students through IMs and texts and the wife realizes she might not be in a monogamous relationship. It doesn’t help that hubby is pretty secretive about the e-conversations he’s carrying on. Then, there is the couple’s son Michael. He’s an ingrate who despises his mom for reasons only known to him. He ignores her rules, including having his girlfriend sleep over. Really, he just ignores her altogether. He only speaks to her when she confronts him. When this happens, it’s all profanity laced attitude coming from his mouth. By the way, mom is a highly successful doctor. Other than that, her existence is pretty miserable.

As luck would have it, Catherine meets Chloe (Seyfried) in a restaurant restroom. It turns out Chloe is a prostitute. She’s also about the same age as all those girls David shares his laughs with. Putting her newfound contact to use, she decides to hire Chloe to present herself to David as a student and see what happens. As for her Catherine’s relationship with her son, she does nothing but whine about it. Her real energy is focused on getting all the juicy details of her husband’s meetings with Chloe. From there, a Skinemax flick breaks out.

For the uninformed, Skinemax refers to the soft-core porn movies that cable network Cinemax became famous for in the 1990s. They mostly aired late at nigh, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. Do they still do this? I haven’t had the channel in years, but obviously I know way too much about this. Still, there is a point. Most of those flicks seems to rip off Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, or have a plot that is some sort of hybrid of the two. This one goes the Fatal Attraction route. Chloe does indeed turn out to be our psycho. Who she is fatally attracted to is a twist that’s not all that surprising. Titillating? Sure. Unexpected? Not really.

The problem is once Chloe’s nuttiness becomes evident, we can always guess her next move. We’ve seen this before. Most of the other movies we’ve watched like this, such as Obsessed and Basic Instinct 2 at least have the good sense to go so far over the top they’re teetering on the edge of the cliff. Those movies revel in their ridiculousness. They are really bad, but enjoyably so. Chloe tries to traverse a more “adult”, artsy-fartsy road. Sadly, it never escapes the shadow of its Skinemax roots. Julianne Moore is a fine actress. I’ve always enjoyed her work. However, her role here could’ve been played by one-time B-movie queen Shannon Whirry. Seyfried could’ve been replaced with any number of less talented but similarly attractive wannabes. Liam Neeson? Let’s just say his role doesn’t really require someone with the chops of Liam Neeson.

Like most of, if not all the movies Whirry actually starred in, there is a good deal of nudity. Also like those movies, the nudity is not there to accentuate the plot, but to grab attention away from a weak storyline. Seeing Moore and Seyfried in various stages of undress, often in the presence of one another, becomes the point of the movie instead of a part of it. The result is we have a wonderful cast doing their best to elevate material that can’t be lifted.

MY SCORE: 4/10

No comments:

Post a Comment