1 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

1 out of 5 stars

Don’t let the wayward Oscar nominees fool you; this sex thriller is trapped in a tepid zone between quality trash and pretentious psychodrama. Comfortable Torontonians Catherine (Moore) and Dave (Neeson) eye each other with suspicion through the glass panels of their fractured existence. Is he cheating on her? Catherine, in a fit of pique, hires doe-eyed escort Chloe (Seyfried, out of her limited depths), whom she meets in a restaurant bathroom, to seduce Dave and finally get some closure. (The scheme comes from the 2003 French drama Nathalie..., where it didn’t make much sense either.)

We’re supposed to tingle when this temptress goes off task, turning lasciviously to Catherine herself and then to the latter’s sexually active teenage son. But while conceived like the typical predator of these kinds of flicks, the enigmatic character is stranded by Seyfried’s unpersuasive, watery diffidence; even when (briefly) nude, the actor seems way too covered up and unwilling to seize the brass ring of late-night-Skinemax glory, as Drew Barrymore once did in Poison Ivy. Directing this painfully arty wreck is Atom Egoyan, whose recent series of misfires suggest he’s long forgotten how to make anything as sublime as Exotica. No doubt he looks down upon a film like Basic Instinct, even though it’s less pseudo-elitist and more secure in its own skin.—Joshua Rothkopf

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