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03.28.10

The Campiest Movie of the Year

It's not even April, but Choire Sicha is ready to declare that Julianne Moore's sexually explicit Chloe—lesbian noir meets Fatal Attraction—is the most outrageous film of 2010.

There was a brief, delicious period when the high-stakes Hollywood actress competition was on, like the Indy 500. Hilary Swank was there, with Boys Don't Cry in 1999 and Million Dollar Baby in 2004. Charlize Theron was there, too, God bless, kicking it in 2003 with her portrayal of Aileen Wournos in Monster. But then Theron went off to Hancock and Astro Boy. (Then she was making a sequel to The Italian Job with Jason Statham and now it is apparently canceled!) Swank starred in Amelia and has apparently completed Betty Anne Waters, which is basically The Pelican Brief meets Dead Man Walking. Yawnsies.

These performances were exciting because they were about going just a bit too far. This sort of on-screen lady-spectacle is a real tightrope walk, requiring a great net-holding job by directors and producers and editors; if anyone does his or her job wrong, suddenly the starlet is Mommie Dearest. Don't go far enough? Well, then you just end up with Sandra Bullock.

Unless you’re getting a different Cinemax than I am, we haven’t seen women experience each other (I think that’s what they still call it at Wesleyan?) like this in a mainstream-ish film since the mid-’90s.

While Swank and Theron left us in the lurch (and we're not even going to TALK ABOUT Nicole Kidman here), Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore both kept chugging along. They rarely err; even when they go beyond all the way (see Mamma Mia! and A Single Man, respectively) they end up in a rare place, one of exquisitely pleasurable, gorgeously accomplished camp. (Camp can be earnestly enjoyed, we have learned, now that Susan Sontag is no longer around to explain its tragedy.)

And now, for those of us who very much need to be not just entertained but awed and also slightly aghast, well, praise be: Julianne Moore's nipples have sent us back to the races.

There is no less crude way to put this. Julianne Moore can act with her bosom. Going too far? How about all the way, lady!

This marvel, this revelation, comes in the new film Chloe—which was released Friday, and will hold the crown for Campiest Movie of 2010. It is the Movie of the Year Most Likely to Still Be Watched Rapturously by Giggling Aging Gays in the Year 2030.

(And no, to be fair we haven't seen Sex and the City 2: Get Carried Away For Real This Time yet—and, obviously, it's eight long months until the maybe-magical, maybe-hilarious Tron. And yet, it is not too early in the year to declare Chloe the winner.)

Moore plays a gynecologist (hoo boy) with an academic husband (Liam Neeson) who is obviously cheating on her. She has a really nice house. She meets a young hooker (Amanda Seyfried). She hires the hooker, who seduces her husband. (So it's just like Indecent Proposal, but Canadian and therefore in reverse.)

The hooker returns to deliver unto Moore's character a riveting monologue of her pretty persuasion. She has totally just done the gynecologist's husband in a public greenhouse! Everything is hot and wet!

And so the ladies get it on, too. And on! Really well, too. Julianne Moore, what can't you do? Lest we forget Moore's dreamy young co-star, Seyfried, well—let's just say she gives as good as she gets.

The movie of course ends in absolute hysterics. Charles Busch couldn't have plotted it better were he writing a sequel to Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.

Like the majority of Atom Egoyan movies, Chloe is alternately exceptional and irritating. While this, a remake of a French movie called Nathalie, is more complete than his last, the should-have-been-awesome yet crazily flawed Adoration, this film owes much more to Showgirls than to his The Sweet Hereafter or Exotica.

But unless you're getting a different Cinemax than I am, we haven't seen women experience each other (I think that's what they still call it at Wesleyan?) like this in a mainstream-ish film since the mid-'90s.

Bound, the first feature directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski, had as a technical adviser Susie Bright; the "sexpert" (and owner of the world's best tomato sauce recipe) was brought in to choreograph the down-and-dirty between Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon.

The result was actually stunning; the 1996 movie is remembered and praised more for the truly expert girl-on-girl than for the introduction of, you know, some of the most commercially successful film creators of our time.

And then there were all those other… oh. Hmm. Well, a few years previous, there'd been Go Fish, the no-budget girls-of-Chicago fun-fest. And, err… I've Heard the Mermaids Singing? High Art? No? Fried Green Tomatoes, where many audience members didn’t notice the main characters were lesbians?

So we see. The pantheon of high camp films that feature explicit lady-wrestling has many thrones yet to be seated. But now Ms. Moore can sit at Gina Gershon’s right hand.

And while there's no Sapphic technical consultant on Chloe, there is the unusual credit on the film to one Karen Han, whose job was described as " dust busting." We don't even WANT to know! (Except we do!) Still, let's leave it like this: Hooray for you, Julianne Moore! Once more—but in a whole new way from Safe, Far From Heaven, I’m Not There, Boogie Nights and The Hours—you really put your something where your something is. We'll be laughing when we rewatch this movie, but we absolutely won't be laughing at you.

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Choire Sicha is co-proprietor of The Awl and is at work on a nonfiction book for HarperStudio.