The Curious Case of the LAT Critic's Chloe Flip-Flop


Everyone is entitled to change his or her mind -- especially film critics, some of whose best work occurs in a kind of corrective retrospect. That said, I'm not so sure that's what's happening with L.A. Times critic Betsy Sharkey's (pictured above, left) approach to Chloe, which Sharkey lauded following its premiere at last year's Toronto Film Festival, yet lashed out at in a review prior to this week's opening. And the fun only starts there.

Distributor Sony Pictures Classics cobbled together its lead blurb in Chloe's print ads from Sharkey's bizarre, typo-riddled half rave/half ode to Amanda Seyfried, which starts a little like this:

Think of Chloe as a contemporary Fatal Attraction, the new thriller from the always intellectually challenging director Atom Egoyan which makes its public debut Sunday Evening at this Toronto fest. It's one of those films that shouldn't be, but for now is riding quietly under the radar. But this is Canada and Egoyan makes his home here, so it might get loud

The big stars are Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson as the doctor and professor whose perfect marriage has gone a bit limp, but the miracle is Amanda Seyfried, who is becoming one of the finest young actresses around. You might know her as the lovely oldest daughter from Big Love, or the beautiful only daughter from Mama Mia, [sic] with Meryl Streep. She's the one with eyes so big and blue they threaten to take over her face, and a Raphael-esque tumble of golden curls. Oh, and she can act.

Wow! I hardly disagree, though SPC opted for the Times praise over Movieline's or pretty much anyone else's (it even took top billing above Roger Ebert and Caryn James's glowing blurbs), which turned out like this:


And as a tipster notes, this is the ad running presently in the L.A. Weekly, the New York Times and, quite brilliantly, today in the LAT,where Sharkey's full review makes full use of six months' worth of second thoughts. Or something:

Chloe is a conundrum. Envisioned as a psychosexual thriller about a woman scorned, director Atom Egoyan's latest puzzle is just puzzling, little more than a messy affair with mood lighting, sexy lingerie, heavy breathing and swelling, um, music. [...]

All that sex and need add up to a whole lot of trouble, but unlike the filmmaker's critically acclaimed 1994 film, Exotica where the cerebral intersected with lust and longing in a strip club so that guilt, obsession and responsibility as well as Mia Kirshner's young body were laid bare, Chloe stops short. The result is a sort of story interruptus, the thematic possibilities of the sexual balance of power in relationships teased but never to a satisfactory conclusion. [...] When Egoyan is on point, as he was in his 1997 breakthrough, The Sweet Hereafter he turns the machinations of all manner of human connections into something rare and too easily shattered.

In Chloe, it's hard to care if anything breaks.

So confused! Was there a byline mix-up? An honest reconsideration? Shouldn't that have perhaps been noted -- or at least taken under advisement before Sony Classics blurbed Sharkey in its ad? What a mess, and not one that will help film-criticism latecomer Sharkey, who has never really dazzled peers or readers alike since moving over from the TV side in 2008. Anyway, while we're on the hunt for answers, think of it this way: At least when Armond White calls for a retroactive abortion, he stands by it.

· Amanda Seyfried: Sexy, Scary Chloe [LAT]

· Chloe [LAT]


  • The Winchester says:

    Sharkey finally came down from her Molson Golden/Tim Horton's high three days later, and continues claiming to not have seen any films at all in Toronto.

  • Jason says:

    If Sharkey had not seen the film at TIFF, then how did her write something like this in her eariler article for "Chloe"? :
    "The film has that lush, romantic, other-worldly feel of most of Egoyan's work. And he stays true to his habit of taking us to places where life becomes uncomfortably complicated. There are twists and turns everywhere, and the sex, because with a young prostitute at the center of the story you know there will be sex, is like the streets of the town, and the wistful loss of a marriage, as beautiful as it is chilling to watch."
    On the other hand, I think that SPC wouldn't use Sharkey's quote without her approval.

  • Kate Aurthur says:

    One correction here: Betsy, my former boss and a great person, was the Entertainment Editor in Calendar before becoming a film critic. She had been the TV editor years before. Just FYI.

  • Peteykins says:

    Contextual advertising FTW!

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  • What is he really speaking about in here? Socrates words of wisdom suggests that we as people must always accept what is the reality of the situation and appreciate life.

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