Spoilers – though nothing that ain’t in the trailer – follow.

“Hot Tub Time Machine” and Dreamworks “Dragon” movie are the big deals this weekend, but if it’s playing near you “Chloe” is definately worth tracking down. The hook is about the same as “In The Cut” – i.e. art-film director, in this case Atom Egoyan, tackles trashy erotic thriller – but the payoff is actually quite excellent.

It’s basically a “Comfortably-wealthy married women have problems too, y’know!” drama centered around Julianne Moore’s Catherine, who’s not dealing well with her teenage son’s now-evident sex life and – more problematically – suspects her husband (Liam Neeson) of cheating. As in most stories like this, simply walking up to him and ASKING would apparently be “unrefined,” so instead Catherine tracks down conspicuously-glamorous call girl Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) and pays her to “bait” the husband. What could possibly go wrong?

We’ve seen this story before, and thus “know” that things will spiral out of control, but there’s a few character curveballs and one head-slapper plot twist (I won’t divulge that one, though this is technically a remake of the French “Nathalie” from a few years back) that put it on a different level. Most of the time, “erotic thrillers” using the “bait the cheater” angle are about jealousy and envy – here, it’s all about psycho-sexual transference: Catherine is deriving personal erotic satisfaction from Chloe’s descriptions of her encounter’s with Neeson, something the audience and Chloe pick up on before she does – in effect having an “affair” with secondhand storytelling – which escalates to the logical extreme as Catherine is compelled to “sample the wares” firsthand, taking Chloe to bed in a “holy shit!” sequence that’ll make this the most inappropriately-purchased DVD since “Mulholland Drive.”

This how you can tell European/Canadian erotic-thrillers from American, btw: The plot (if not Egoyan’s linger long-shots) take the lesbian development entirely for granted – there’s no “wait, a woman?” or “I’ve never done this” business at all… the film and it’s characters seem to take (female) bisexuality as a “given.” The real – er.. “thrust” of the story, as usual, is more about class than sex: Rich-as-hell Catherine, at the end of the day, essentially regards Chloe as an expensive tool to be used – either as agent, proxy and finally lover – then set aside. Act 3 is all about reminding Catherine et al that even a prostitute may react… “unexpectedly” to being used and discarded.

If the film gets any attention at all, it’ll probably face some backlash painting it as a stereotypical “lesbian stalker” moviel but it strikes me as having more going on. It’s possible to read it in basic, broad Freudian terms: Catherine is repressing her own homosexuality (she happens to be an ob-gyn, if you want to get really “broad” about it) which inflames cheating suspicions, which gives her the “excuse” to seek out Chloe. And Chloe’s constant insistance on “gifting” Catherine with an ornate hairpin that had belonged to her mother seems like a pretty clear-cut same-sex-Oedipal-complex. And not for nothing does Chloe open their initial dialogue by volunteering how seldom she’s contacted by single women (as opposed to couples.) But the fact that there’s something more AT ALL going on is the real point of interest.

…Or you could, of course, just go to gawk at the nudity from Seyfried – who looks like a Greek statue, an absolute stunner – and Moore – who’s better suited than most other actresses of her age to appear nude alongside (literally) someone who looks like a Greek statue. That works, too…

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