March 26, 2010 at 1:00 am

Tom Long Film Review: 'Chloe' -- GRADE: C-

Review: 'Chloe' flounders at the finish

Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried star in the erotic thriller 'Chloe.' (Sony Pictures)

In the erotic thriller "Chloe," director Atom Egoyan gets the erotic stuff right but pretty much drops the thriller part on its head.

As a result, the first two-thirds of the film plays out as an interesting if barely plausible mix of ethical dilemmas and fleshy encounters, while the film's ending dramatics are a series of moan-inducing leaps.

Not that the viewer isn't leaping right from the beginning with this movie. Julianne Moore stars as Catherine, a successful gynecologist married to successful professor David (Liam Neeson).

But after David, who's a natural flirt with pretty young things, misses his own surprise birthday party, Catherine begins to suspect he's having an affair.

So she does what any good wife would do: She marches on out and hires an incredibly beautiful young prostitute named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to try and entice David.

Entice him into what is never specified, but pretty soon Chloe is describing all the sexy shenanigans she and David are experiencing -- and Catherine finds herself getting oddly aroused.

Said arousal leads Catherine to bed with Chloe, at which point Catherine decides maybe it's time to pull the plug on their relationship. Ya think?

But then Chloe starts acting weird, which brings up the film's essential failure: Who's Chloe? We know virtually nothing about her, and thus nothing she does makes a whole lot of sense. She becomes a sort of outside-issue Demon Seed, but why?

By the time Chloe comes calling on Catherine and David's teen son (Max Thieriot), "Chloe" has become more indiscriminately seamy than steamy. And then things get worse. Starting hot and ending ice cold, "Chloe" is a clunker.