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It takes more than chlorine to make a pool swimmable, and it takes more than a rehashing of familiar themes of suburban moral rot to make Chlorine watchable. Jay Alaimo’s drama about a long-married couple dealing with familial and financial tensions features fine performances from the veterans in its cast. But it ultimately comes across as little more than a compendium of cliches.
Set in the seemingly bucolic New England town of Copper Canyon, the film concerns the strained relationship between the hapless Roger (Vincent D’Onofrio), a banker who has slaved away for years in the hope of getting the promotion that perpetually has been dangled before him, and his wife, Georgie (Kyra Sedgwick), who strives to maintain her youth with a newfound passion for racing motorcycles while looking on enviously at the lavish lifestyle of Roger’s boss (Jordan Belfi) and his free-spending wife (Elisabeth Rohm).
Their children are no less disaffected. Daughter Cynthia (Flora Cross) is struggling with adolescence, experiencing her first period while swimming in the country-club pool, whose frequent doses of chlorine provide the film with its all too symbolic title. Her older brother, Henry (Ryan Donowho), who spends his free time reading The Art of War, works part-time at a local construction site whose contractor (Tom Sizemore) forces him into cutting corners.
When a sleazy tennis pro and part-time drug dealer (Rhys Coiro) asks Roger to help him invest his ill-gotten gains, Roger sees an opportunity. His ensuing financial chicanery sparks a crisis that forces the main characters to reassess their values and relationships, resulting in an improbable happy ending.
Director Alaimo — working from a screenplay co-written with Matt Fiorello — never manages to plumb the socially resonant situations with the necessary depth. The film, revealing its low-budget limitations with its washed-out visuals, never achieves a consistent tone, veering uneasily between forced satirical humor and sappy melodrama. While the ever-reliable D’Onofrio and Sedgwick manage to invest their characters with subtle emotional depths, their fine efforts are not enough to rid Chlorine of its odious elements.
Opens Feb. 28 (Gravitas Ventures)
Production: Company Motion Pictures
Cast: Vincent D’Onofrio, Kyra Sedgwick, Flora Cross, Ryan Donowho, Jordan Belfi, Elisabeth Rohm, Rhys Coiro, Michele Hicks, Dreama Walker, Tom Sizemore
Director: Jay Alaimo
Screenwriters: Jay Alaimo, Matthew Fiorello
Producers: Matt Parker, Joseph Mazzaella
Executive producers: James C. Herrmann, Robert L. Beatty, Paul J. Daley
Director of photography: Jamie Kirpatrick
Editors: David Leonard, Amela Baksic
Production designer: Paul J. Daley
Costume designer: Shannon Makhanian
Composers: Taylor McLam, Jay Della Valle
Not rated, 93 min.
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