Atom Egoyan is no stranger to themes of erotica and this is expertly demonstrated in the director’s erotic thriller CHLOE. The film is sensual and stylish, delivering a perfume advert aesthetic while also unfolding a chilling story. Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) is a call girl with a fragile mentality. She is hired by Catherine (Julianne Moore) in order to test her husband David’s (Liam Neeson) fidelity. Playing with fire from the start, Catherine continues to monitor Chloe and her advances towards her husband.
Temptation becomes too much for Catherine and she starts to get aroused at the thought of her husband with another woman. Chloe seduces David and, in recounting the situation, she also tries to seduce Catherine and develops intense feelings for her. Catherine soon realises the situation has gone too far, but not before she and Chloe have sex. Chloe is the centre point for lust; as her obsession with Catherine develops, she seduces and sleeps with Catherine’s son Michael (Max Thieriot) as a way of feeling closer to Catherine. Lust infiltrates the film. Chloe uses her sexuality as a weapon to get to the woman she desires. Catherine lusts after excitement and a break away from her mundane marriage. However this wreaks havoc on the relationship. David also lusts after excitement; both he and Catherine are unhappy and bored in their relationship. It becomes obvious that his love for his wife is too strong to hurt her, despite their boredom. Adolescent Max has become sexually active and aware, and he channels that awareness throughout. Yet his attraction to Chloe also reveals is sexual immaturity.
Catherine recognises Chloe’s infatuation and her threat to the family and promptly tries to remove her from the family and their life. Chloe becomes hysterical, confessing her love for Catherine and becoming psychotic, sensually and slowly dragging a hairpin across Catherine’s neck. The messy web of lust and desire is drawn to a close when Catherine abruptly shoves Chloe through the window frame. Chloe manages to hold on but then intentionally falls to her death in a beautiful slow-motion sequence.
Despite her deviant intentions, Chloe’s actions have an air of innocence. She is soft and sensual, even at the moment of her death. Her chilling yet sensual legacy is implied when Catherine is seen to be wearing the very hairpin that almost killed her. Catherine cannot let go of the dangerous yet erotic memory of Chloe, insinuating a guilty fantasy of their brief history together. Despite her psychotic nature, Chloe is portrayed as innocent and fragile throughout, suggesting that Catherine and David are the root cause of her obsession and of her eventual demise.
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