Chloe 2009 - The Ravine House

© Drew Mandel
© Drew Mandel

Toronto is another chameleon city which often stands in for other locations, however in the 2009 release Chloe, Toronto stars as itself. Director Atom Egoyan's obvious affection for his home city is evident and some of Torontos unique architectural assets are on show, including the Royal Ontario Museum by Daniel Libeskind and Frank Ghery's Art Gallery of Ontario, but the real star is the house used to portray the home of central characters Catherine and David Stewart (Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson) which they share with their increasingly distant son. 

Drew Mandel's Ravine House provides the setting for some major events in the film (including the active participation in the climax - an incident with a window which will have architects reaching to confirm glazing certificates). If you have watched the film you might not recognise the house from the outside. That is because the owners requested that the production team hold something back to ensure the backdrop remained ficticious (and that they weren't forevermore living in a film set). Exterior shots were of an alternative house by Stephen Teeple.

The plot tells the story of a prostitute (Chloe, played by Amanda Seyfried) in need of a genuine connection with a woman. She needs a mentor, she needs a mother - but she only knows one way to have relationships.  She meets Julianne Moore's character whose secret anxieties and self doubt lead her to question her perfect life and suspect her husband of infidelity. The story is the train wreck that follows. 

© Tom Arban
© Tom Arban

The use of the house in this film avoids the usual stereotypes associated with modern houses in film. It is not cold or uncomfortable. It is thoughtful and well considered which suits Julianne Moore's character well - her attention to detail and her high standards - but somehow you suspect that if you opened a cupboard, the contents would be all jumbled. Much is made of the hard surfaces and layers of glass but it is also glamorous and tranquil, as though under different conditions the house would provide an elegant sanctuary. The fault is with the inhabitants, not the house.

© Tom Arban
© Tom Arban

While the film is a mainstream remake of French film Nathalie by Anne Fontaine, it is not a sanitized version and those who were attracted by the R rating will not be disappointed. The encounter between the two women is largely unnecessary though - the chemistry between them is enough to indicate that their relationship has escalated - but it's certainly a good way to get the punters in. 


Thanks to Drew Mandel for permission to use photographs.

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