last week i went to the Santa Barbara Film Festival. first, a panel discussion about women in the movie industry, and then a screening of Erin Cressida Wilson’s new film, CHLOE. the panel was sadly a bit superficial. the moderator, first and foremost, did not ask the panelists any questions pertaining to *women* in the industry until well into the program, and then when she did, it was questions like, “what does your husband think of your job?” it was a bit… insulting. some of the women, including Erin C. Wilson, answered candidly, with humor and conviction, while others seemed to be providing a simple, and shockingly complimentary view, of what it is to be a woman in “the biz”. of course i myself don’t work in the industry, so i don’t know first hand what it’s like. but from what i gather, it’s much like any other profession in which men dominate (eh hem, nearly all…): women have to work a million times harder to “make it” than men do. and then when they get “to the top” they’re not always kind to their own.
the film, CHLOE, on the other hand, rocked my world. part erotica, part love story, part thriller, this film had me by the neck at every moment. the story goes: a woman suspects her husband is cheating on her, so she hires a sex worker to try to entice her husband to see if he’ll take the bait. what ensues is a plot that reveres wild tale-telling, delightfully debauched impulses, the employment of calculated vindications, and the acting on maniacal desires.
WARNING: spoiler behind the cut…
my one instance of mixed feelings about the film was that the sex worker, Chloe, dies in the end, leaving the family with whom she fucked (literally and figuratively) fragmented yes, but still alive and breathing. at first i thought, “why does the prostitute have to die?!” chloe was the only character with whom i consistently identified/sympathized with, even when, towards the end, she becomes hostile and vindictive. during the Q&A with Erin C. Wilson after the movie, Erin (the screenwriter herself) also expressed troubled feelings about chloe’s death noting that feminist film critics might be up-in-arms and down her throat about it. additionally, there was a man in the audience who asked Erin why the son in the family (who also had an affair with chloe) didn’t come to her rescue and serve as the hero of the film. it was especially after this question that i began to reconsider, somehow, my interpretation of the ending. i haven’t worked it all out yet, though. i’m interested to know how the film is received.
i’m also interested to know how the film is received regarding the love and sex between the two female characters, Chloe and Catherine. you see, neither of these characters is gay, yet the fact of their love and that they do have sex in the movie, makes me anxious that the film will be categorized as a gay film, and not necessarily as a film specifically about female desire and the monotony and rigidity of traditional marriage and the stories we (women) tell ourselves to survive whatever challenges and anxieties are in front of us.