Erin Doherty in Psychological Thriller – The Hollywood Reporter

Twelve years after the launch of Instagram, it’s hardly news that no one’s life is really as blissful as it looks on their carefully curated feeds. Yet as Becky (Erin Doherty) can attest, it can be difficult to remember that when you’re stuck in a run-down two-bedroom flat on the unfashionable side of Bristol with your ailing mother, poring over snapshots from the much prettier, posher life of someone you used to know.

In fact, it’ll take most of the six hourlong episodes Chloe for Becky to learn just how messy and troubled the life of her childhood friend Chloe Fairbourne (Poppy Gilbert) was really. But if the series ultimately offers few revelations we haven’t seen before, they’re still the ones that ring more or less true, especially with Doherty’s mesmerizing performance at the center.

Chloe

The Bottom Line

‘Ingrid Goes West’ meets ‘The Girl on the Train,’ with entertaining results.

Release date: Friday, June 24 (Prime Video)
Cast: Erin Doherty, Billy Howle, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Poppy Gilbert, Lisa Palfrey, Jack Farthing, Brandon Micheal-Hall, Alexander Eliot, Akshay Khanna
Creator: Alice Seabright


Chloe‘s central premise lands as a cross between Ingrid Goes West (itself a riff on The Talented Mr. Ripley) and The Girl on the Train (or any of those other domestic thrillers with “Girl” or “Woman” in the title), with a touch of Killing Eve‘s eye for enviable high-end fashion.

When we first meet her, Becky is a nobody who spends her days toiling at a dead-end temp job when she’s not worrying over her increasingly dementia-stricken mother (Lisa Palfrey). But she already has a taste for the good life – whetted by her obsessive consumption of Chloe’s aspirational social media posts – and a knack for worming her way into it. On one occasion, she RSVPs to a cocktail party using her boss’ name and shows up in a fancy coat she’s stolen from a coworker, just for the thrill of spending a few hours downing free wine among a hip and moneyed crowd.

The morning after, Becky wakes up to discover that Chloe has died after attending an event for her handsome politician husband, Elliot (Billy Howle). An even odder discovery is that Becky’s was the last number called Chloe, although the two haven’t spoken in years.

Unsettled and curious, Becky sets about infiltrating Chloe’s circle in search of answers; if her efforts allow her to live out the fantasy of Chloe’s seemingly charmed life, all the better. Armed with a fake name (“Sasha Miles”) and a pile of designer outfits bought on credit, Becky essentially becomes Chloe – not only getting in with Chloe’s pals, including BFF Livia (Pippa Bennett-Warner), but going so far as to date her widower. At night, once Elliot has fallen asleep, she wanders Chloe’s house rifling through her things before returning to her bed.

As with most shows about con artists and impostors, much of the pleasure of Chloe is in simply watching Becky get away with it. She’s successful in part because she’s clever and in part because creator Alice Seabright isn’t overly worried about real-world plausibility. (Where would be the fun in that?) But it’s also because Chloe’s friends are too superficial to look past the fact that “Sasha” seems to have the right look, hang out in the right places and name-drop the right people, and too self-absorbed to notice that she seems to have an uncanny gift for being exactly what they need and nothing else: She can be a willing assistant, an impromptu babysitter, a shoulder to cry on, asking nothing of them but the opportunity to help out.

Only Josh (Brandon Micheal-Hall), an on-again, off-again love interest who is himself something of an outsider – he’s on the fringes of their scene, and an American to boot – is on to Becky’s game, thanks more to lucky timing than impressive detective skills on his part.

Doherty, who broke out as the flinty Princess Anne in The Crown, is marvelous in a role that’s simultaneously magnetic and off-putting. She slips between cold calculation and sincere warmth, oppressive insecurity and slick competence. “I go somewhere new, I make new friends. It doesn’t make a difference. I’m still stuck being me, ”she despairs in a rare moment of vulnerability. What Doherty understands that Becky does not is that her inability to just be herself is paradoxically one of her defining qualities.

As Chloe’s friends, Bennett-Warner and Jack Farthing similarly get to peel back the layers of characters who start out seeming like easily identifiable types, though it’s the quietly intense Howle (recently seen grieving another dead wife in Under the Banner of Heaven) who proves the hardest to look away from.

Gilbert’s Chloe, meanwhile, remains something of an enigma. Becky and Chloe’s shared history is sketched out in intermittent flashbacks throughout the series, and it won’t be until the finale that it becomes precisely clear what drove them apart. Even then, Chloe avoids putting too tidy a bow on the mystery of who Chloe really was, why Chloe really called Becky and what really happened to Chloe.

Becky might think she knows, but we’ve previously seen Becky imagine Chloe’s final moments over and over with different details each time, based on whatever new facts she’s just uncovered. Chloe‘s understanding that lives are more complicated than they might appear on social media extends, graciously, to deaths.

It’s Becky that the series doesn’t seem to quite know what to do with. Chloe is structured for maximum satisfaction: The stakes creep up with each episode so deftly that, like Becky himself, we don’t realize how in over her head she is until it’s too late, and then they pay off with a dramatic confrontation that delivers long -awaited answers and some much-desired comeuppance. (Albeit one that hinges on a head-scratcher of a decision from Becky, seemingly driven more by the plot’s need to tie up loose ends than by any real need on her part.)

But it also turns Becky’s role into something more straightforward than it had been, glossing over (though not completely sanding off) the jagged edges that had made her so uniquely compelling. In the end, it seems, not even Chloe can resist the temptation to pretty it up a bit for the likes. The whole series concludes on a shot of a sunset, its golden glow reflected in gently cascading water. It’s bittersweet. It’s beautiful. It’s positively Instagram-worthy.

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