I wanted more Liam Neeson. I suppose that is one of, if not the biggest, complaints I have about the film. I wonder how much the death of Neeson’s wife, Natasha Richardson had on his character’s involvement in the story. The script had to be changed due to his absence when her death occurred, and I’m assuming that cuts were made to what we saw his character get to do. Then again, I haven’t seen the French film Nathalie…, which Chloe is a remake of, so maybe that character just doesn’t get much time in either version. Regardless, I wanted more.
The film kicks off on professor David Stewart’s (Neeson) birthday. He’s out of town, and ends up missing his flight. His wife, Catherine (Julianne Moore) was throwing a surprise party, and while the party goes on, the guest of honor doesn’t arrive until after she’s in bed. Stupid flights! But the next day, she checks his phone and sees a photo of him and one of his college students, presumably taken the night before. The piques her curiosity, although she doesn’t say anything about it to him. At least, not right away.
She meets with a woman named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), who works the streets of the downtown area. We learned in an opening monologue that Chloe is a very smart individual, having to learn exactly what her clients want and then figuring out the best way to satisfy those desires. It’s like a game to her. When she sits down to talk with Catherine, she says that she doesn’t usually meet with single women. Most of her clients are couples.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Is she going to hire this escort woman to get back at her husband for possibly cheating? No, that isn’t what’s going to happen, and you should be ashamed for thinking that about a character you know nothing about. Instead, she does something possibly worse: She hires Chloe to attempt a seduction of her husband. At first, all Catherine wants her to do is make small talk, but soon enough, Chloe has to get all of the proper tests to make sure she’s clean. Catherine still cares about things like that, you see.
All of the interactions between Chloe and the professor are explained by Chloe to Catherine. We see them, or at least, parts of them, but Chloe delivers all of the juicy details about what happens. Catherine never seems too angry — actually, she seems more interested and excited than enraged. It’s like listening to lunchroom gossip, except that gossip happens to be fairly sexually explicit. Oh, and it also involves her husband. That’s kind of an important point as well.
The plot eventually changes from this to something that you may or may not see coming. I won’t spoil it, but certain things happen, others don’t, and we eventually learn what everyone wants in, or out of, their lives. There are confrontations, discussions, a fight or two, and we realize that things we thought we knew earlier weren’t true, or weren’t presented in the correct way. It’s actually quite engaging and I can’t say I was bored very often with Chloe. It was quite a ride that delved more deeply into the characters’ psyche than I expected going in.
But then the ending comes. I was not a fan of the way that Chloe ended. Obviously I can’t tell you how, but it’s abrupt and feels like a cop-out to an even bigger climax. We get quite a lot of buildup that fizzles out instead of giving us the final thrill that we need. It’s also done in slow motion but then cuts away before the event fully transpires. In a film like this, I couldn’t believe the choice in ending. But then again, that’s probably how Nathalie… ended as well, so that’s where some of the blame lies. Not all of it, because I’m certain changes were made in the script at earlier points; rewriting the ending would have been a good idea as well.
Like I said, Liam Neeson’s character isn’t all that involved in the story here, which is almost always too bad. We end up spending most of our time in conversations between Chloe and Catherine, with some breaks for other conversations between Catherine and either her husband or son, Michael (Max Thieriot). The latter of those two wins the prize of “most annoying character” for this film, as he’s constantly disobeying or bugging his parents. I mean, it’s clear that he doesn’t get along with them, but making the point in every single scene is incredibly annoying, especially since the reason behind their fighting is never given. (A deleted scene gives us more insight, and in my opinion should have been left in the final cut, but since it wasn’t, it doesn’t count as proper motivation to me.)
That goes hand in hand with the rest of the film. We’re never quite sure why people are acting the way they do, or if they’re actually acting that way at all. This is what makes Chloe worth watching. It keeps a lot of things hidden until its final scenes, and when the reveals happened, you’re surprised just enough to make it a worthwhile surprise, but not enough that it’ll seem to have come out of nowhere. You’re thinking as the film progresses about alternative motivations, so when a character’s true intentions are revealed, they’re not quite as shocking as you might think.
Chloe is a fascinating film, although it isn’t a fantastic one. The ending felt off and Liam Neeson needed a larger role. But on the whole, it’s a solid experience that will possibly confuse you for some time, all the while revealing itself to be an engaging thriller that leaves you thinking about it long after it ends. It hides its characters well, but still allows you to care about what happens to them — all of them. It’s worth a watch in my eyes, even if some viewers might be turned off by the sexual content.