Postcards and/of Prostitutes: Circulating the City in Atom Egoyan’s Chloe
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In his classic discussion of the modern city in modernity, Walter Benjamin argued that the prostitute acts as an allegory of the (human) commodity and its position as exchange-value object in the urban phantasmagoria of movement, mixing, and travel. In this chapter, I consider how Atom Egoyan’s erotic thriller, Chloe (2009) uses the prostitute as an allegory for the postmodern city of revanchist planning and globalised economic competition. Remarkably, Chloe is the first ever non-Canadian funded film to be set on location in Toronto, although, of course, many films have been filmed in Toronto—it just happens to be masquerading as a different (American) city, in an industry practice known as license-plating. Chloe thus sets up a complex metaphor between the city and the woman as prostitute, each one offering themselves up as a substitute for financial return. Furthermore, Egoyan himself turns to the marketplace here, working not in his usual mode of State-funded auteur but as director for hire within the commercial system. Chloe thus demonstrates the complex accommodations that cities, directors, and women must make as they try to sell themselves and find their niche as ‘different’ in a fiercely competitive market, while not being so transgressive they risk failure and rejection.