Reflections on Chloé (2009), directed by Atom Egoyan
Chloé is a prostitute. A high-class prostitute, but a prostitute nonetheless. Her clients are well-to-do Toronto men who meet with her at a hotel adjacent to the gynecology office of one Catherine Stewart, a successful physician married to an equally successful college professor of music, David Stewart.
The couple has a teenage son, Michael, who is about to graduate from high school.
The Stewart family is beautiful.
Unless, of course, she happens to be spotted with another such man in another place, say, a restaurant where the Stewarts happen to be dining out one night with friends.
Yes, by process of deduction, Catherine Stewart determines that this young woman is in fact a prostitute. She makes her acquaintance, oddly enough, in the bathroom, as Chloé is sobbing and in need of tissue, which Catherine helpfully passes to her under the stall.
Perhaps we can say that shoes are the great equalizer, for from this view, it's hard to tell which woman is which, though their trades do focus on the very same object, so to speak.
Chloé seems to be suffering from love troubles, as she mutters something to the effect that men are jerks. Catherine wholeheartedly concurs, having recently been suffering from worries that her apparently DH may be not so devoted after all.
The two beautiful women exchange a few words in front of the mirror before returning to their respective "dates".
The troubles chez the Stewart clan have been brewing since David failed to appear for his surprise birthday party, claiming that he had missed his plane after teaching a course in another city (New York?).
In fact, he purposely skipped the party. The question looming large in Catherine's mind is: Why?
The very next morning, the unwelcome answer blips into David's cellphone as it sits unattended on a table.
Let philanderers herewith be forewarned: gadgets are not your friends. No, not even yours, Anthony Weiner.
At this point, Catherine's disappointment that David was a no-show to his birthday party begins to ferment into anger and suspiciousness to the point where she interprets his every word through the lens of a jilted lover. Blinded to all else, what she now sees through that lens is a shameless adulterer.
No amount of yuppie eye candy, in abundance throughout the Stewarts' not-so-humble abode, can lift the fog under which Catherine now labors.
No, I'm afraid that money cannot buy you love, Catherine and David.
All of these trappings of success are worthless in the face of disaffection.
As a self-possessed woman of means (although it's worth pointing out that she took her husband's surname), Catherine sets out to prove once and for all that her formerly devoted husband has transmogrified into just another mid-life-crisis-afflicted cad, chasing after thong-clad nubile co-eds young enough to be his child.
She sets up a meeting with Chloé, during which she makes her a rather peculiar proposition.
Chloé is at first taken aback, but then agrees to play a role in Catherine's scheme, by posing as a college student and placing herself strategically within David's sight to find out whether he will make his move.
David appears initially not to take the bait. But Catherine persists, returning to the ATM machine to procure the funds needed to hire Chloé once again.
Eventually the two women end up in the hotel room where, Chloé reports, the dirty deed has been done.
The two women sit together in the very same, sin-infested space,
Chloé's hair still wet from her post-coital shower.
Catherine plummets into despair upon hearing Chloé's latest report.
As Chloé attempts to console Catherine later that day, at last the moment for perfume arrives.
Catherine detects Chloé's scent and asks her what perfume she's wearing.
Chloé informs her that it is not perfume but lotion.
She takes the tube out of her purse and offers some to Catherine, gently rubbing it into her hands.
The scented lotion takes on a new and deeper meaning for Catherine later, when David detects the scent and asks her whether she is wearing perfume. Catherine replies, as did Chloé to her identical question, "It's not perfume. It's lotion." To Catherine's horror, David whispers in a raspy voice: "I like it."
Aghast that her husband now smells on her the scent of the tramp with whom he has only just slept, Catherine is filled with disgust. From here, everything spirals downward, but I'll not reveal the dénouement...
I will say that throughout the story a few interesting subplots pop up, including Catherine's discovery that her beloved son is now sleeping with a young woman who dashes about the Stewarts' house in Victoria's Secret undies.
When the proverbial couple with everything attend their son's brilliant piano recital, what should be a cause for great joy, Catherine cannot wrench her troubles from her mind.
Catherine is mad, and she's not going to take it anymore.
Amidst all of the cinematographic beauty of this film (or is it just yuppie eye candy?), our underlying and truly pressing question remains:
Would Chloé wear Chloé?
The answer, I find, is: YES! Let us examine the facts, and my grounds for this belief.
First, Chloé does not wear perfume, she wears lotion. Second, Chloé must be clean and pristine for each client whom she meets, who may or may not enjoy the rich and redolent scents of natural tuberose, rose, iris, narcissus, ylang-ylang, jasmine, or any other complex floral scent existing in nature.
Chloé in fact needs, in order to succeed in her chosen profession, as a high-class hooker, most of whose clients are well-to-do married men looking for some safe diddling on the side, to smell clean. Clearly, given her market niche, so to speak, she must make it believable that she is not disease infested or some kind of dime-store whore wafting of Tabu.
And she is not, we learn at one point during the film, as Catherine asks Chloé to present her "clean bill of health" dossier before engaging in any hanky-panky with David. Chloé graciously obliges, showing up one afternoon at Catherine's office (she is, lest we forget, a gynecologist), "papers" in hand:
Chloé would not, I think (for a couple of reasons, only one of which I'll reveal here), wear Chloé Love (pictured on the right).
|Chloé and Chloé Love|
Chloé Love has a detectable iris note, and a resinousness which might or might not appeal to Chloé's clients. Chloé also probably would not wear the original Karl Lagerfeld Chloé, which I am sorry to say that I never got a chance to sniff before it was ruined by reformulation--at least according to Roja Dove.
Chloé would, however, wear the new Chloé, a quintessentially abstract floral scent which falls squarely into the twenty-first-century category of shampoo and conditioner frags. Squeaky clean, as though she just emerged from a shower, Chloé wearing Chloé would be a perfect pair!
I rest my case.