The Best Movie Critic + thriller

Notes on Camp: Chloe

Sorry for the two-week absence, I know you’ve all been DYING for this – but life sometimes intervenes. Some 4 realz, not funny shit went down recently, forcing me to seek out even more ridiculous nonsense than usual, and roughly doubling my weekly boxed wine budget. For some reason Chloe shows up on Netflix under “Cerebral Dramas”. There’s not that much to think about, honestly, that’s not been telegraphed from about the second minute of the opening credit voiceover, in which the titular character puts on some sassy lingerie while telling us what makes her such a good hooker (SPOILER? She’s “good with words”… yeah – words). The credit sequence hadn’t even ended yet when The Boyfriend leaned over and said, “You might as just start writing now.” So I did.

Julianne Moore plays Catherine, a Toronto gynecologist who hasn’t gotten laid in FOREVER (they actually expect us to believe that no one will fuck Amber Waves). Most of the first 30 minutes consists of Moore sitting idly by while her friends and family talk about how much hot sex they’re having. She’s just a frigid old lady whose husband, David (Liam Neeson), won’t fuck her, but will happily flirt with every waitress, student, and cab driver who strikes his fancy. She is pathologically obsessed with her son’s burgeoning sex life, and the appointments she keeps with her gynecological patients border on date rape. One would be excused for thinking that she didn’t go into gynecology for the common good. Translation: HOT LESBO ACTION AHOY!

Enter Chloe (Amanda Seyfreid), a fancy prostitute who seems to have more on her mind than money. Catherine pays Chloe to hit on her husband in order to see what he does – she wants proof that he’s cheating, not just her overwhelming horny suspicion. Catherine arranges for a meet-cute in a coffee shop between Chloe and David – and then waits. At this point, Chloe devolves into a series of gross conversations during which Catherine practically wets her pants listening to all the salacious details of the ever-escalating series of encounters between David and Chloe – and then, well, HOT LESBO ACTION!

Boiled down to a basic outline, Chloe is 90 minutes of prologue, 4 minutes of Cinemax-after-dark, and 10 minutes of What. The. Fuck., which I won’t spoil, even though you will probably guess what’s going on after Catherine and Chloe’s second meetup. One of Chloe’s best attributes is its’ enthusiasm for spoiling any potential plot twist via lingering close-ups a good 20 minutes before expositionally revealing it later. A lot of the fun of Camp comes from familiarity and anticipation – being able to lean over to your friend and say, “wait! This is the best part!” I came to Chloe blind, having not ever seen it before, and yet the familiarity was stronger than ever. The difference between escalation and repetition is lost on Chloe, so you can miss a good 15 minutes and not even realize it.

The best “Erotic Thrillers” (I’m talking about movies like Fatal Attraction or The Last Seduction) manage to make sex seem actually appealing, not just another plot machination. From the moment Catherine and Chloe have their first meeting, we know it will end in tasteful, R-rated cunnilingus - the kind that 50-year-old gynecologists have with prostitutes half their age. Chloe and David's encounters are all shown via flashback (or is it?!), and seem to take place entirely in an abandoned greenhouse. Uh, hot?

It’s been unofficial Amanda Seyfried Week in my house, as we also recently went to see Red Riding Hood (not a great use of $8.50, BTW), and I am becoming increasingly convinced that she needs a new agent, or at least a good friend who will read her scripts and say, “er… Amanda? Are you sure you want to play a second-rate Jennifer Jason Leigh in a fourth-rate Single White Female/Fatal Attraction knockoff?” Amanda Seyfried, if you are reading this, I would be happy to give your potential screenplays a twice-over if it means you will stop making movies that suck.

Which brings me to my Erotic Thriller pet peeve: NO ONE TALKS LIKE THIS. While describing her encounters with David to Catherine, Chloe describes her actions thusly: “I gripped the firmness in his pants”, “he released himself into me”, “I could feel his arousal through his slacks”. I suppose she laid it all out there in the beginning; she is good with words, but why then must she use so many to describe what she’s doing? “I gave him a hand job” would do fine for most of her monologues – but I suppose then Julianne Moore wouldn’t have as much frigid emoting to do.

Discussion Questions (after you’ve seen the movie, vague spoilers ahead):

Was David lying? Or did he really eff that student while away at the conference or whatever in the beginning of the movie.

Just how much therapy will Catherine and David’s son need in the ensuing months?

Fill in the blank: Chloe is best described as ___________________.

  • A fancy prostitute who turns into a crazy lesbian.
  • A crazy lesbian pretending to be a fancy prostitute.
Why doesn’t Catherine just buy a fucking vibrator?

-Ryan

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Notes on Camp: Chloe + thriller