Atom Egoyan has always been a cerebral filmmaker, the kind of director who can look at his characters with such detachment that at his best he gets to certain truths that other directors might miss be focusing on outsized emotions. However, there is a fine line between being objective and failing to have your audience connect with the character, and he ends up on the wrong side of that line with Chloe.
Julianne Moore is Catherine, a gynecologist married to David (Liam Neeson), a music professor. After David comes home a day late from a business trip, Catherine suspects that he may be hiding something from her -- a concern that seems validated when Catherine sees a text message sent to David by one of his students that proves he was lying about why he was late. Unsure about what to do, Catherine ends up hiring a sultry young prostitute named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to come on to David and report back to her how he responds. As Chloe and Catherine continue to meet, Chloe's stories become more explicit, and Catherine soon finds herself drawn to both Chloe and the stories she tells about her time with David.
With the exception of one intensely erotic encounter between Catherine and Chloe, Atom Egoyan doesn't make his audience feel sexy or obsessed, which is particularly strange seeing as sex and obsession are the movie's major themes. It's not that these elements aren't visible on the screen -- content-wise it's hard to imagine a more explicit R-rated film about these topics. However, Egoyan shoots the film in such a sleek, beautiful style that we feel like we're flipping through a glossy magazine rather than engaging with real characters. Julianne Moore gives it everything she's got, laying bare Catherine's body and soul for the camera, but instead of feeling empathy, we're just admiring the actor's commitment. She's undone by both her director's dispassion and a half-baked script that aims to be nothing more than a high-brow Fatal Attraction.
As Chloe, the strikingly beautiful Seyfried also suffers from her character being underwritten. She tells Catherine early on that her goal with every client is to become the thing they want most -- if she can just say the right thing, she can transform into their deepest desire. She wants to be nothing more than a cipher, but that doesn't make for great drama, especially since we never get any scenes of her not on the job. Both Chloe the character and Chloe the movie sure look great, but they're both empty inside.