A slice of life film, The 10 Commandments of Chloe follows the desperately creative Chloe through her troublesome experiences and how she handles them. Quoted as a film about “the pursuit of the American Dream”, the hapless, charismatic lead wanders through a seemingly handheld world as the audience plays voyeur to some of her tragic life choices, and emerges at the end of the film as the next door neighbor to a girl who just can’t seem to learn from her mistakes. Told an in invigorating form of cinema, this feature holds the audience’s attention by dialogue, shots of the urban layout, and a somewhat flawed but realistic sense of sound.
In what can easily be described as a style similar to Richard Linklater’s in his ethereal now-trilogy, the “Before….(Sunrise, Sunset, and Midnight)” films, we see Naama Kates’ Chloe wander through a new-to- her sprawled out Nashville downtown as she barhops, seeking financial gain and a regular gig for her musically inclined character as well as a shot to greatness. She matter of factly ends up touring the city with a hopeless loverboy who ends up only hurting himself when she can’t move past her insecurities to let his native stability in. The film relies on realism, perhaps to a fault. The dialogue is the main point of attraction during various stages throughout the film, and although this is very endearing, it is understandable as to why some audiences would be turned off by this. The film validates itself in the ending, and the observer is left to feel that Chloe is on her path to finding her true self. It may, like for many youths in the world today, not happen overnight, but she is definitely on her way.
The sound left more to be desired, but it is this reviewer’s opinion that it was meant to be that way. Vaguely shrouded dialogue, covered by the noise of the city at the beginning, and then as Chloe finds her voice, it becomes more prevalent and easier to hear. The cinematography feels like a reality show environment on a lower scale, which is entrancing once the viewer gets absorbed into the story. However, one flaw that dragged on throughout the film showed with the focus. It appeared that the camera was set to auto focus as in the scene where Chloe and her pseudo love interest talk in a living room- the focus doesn’t adjust to the characters right away. Instead the focus bounces from scenery to character and beyond as it searches for what the viewer should be looking for. If it was intentional, it mirrors Chloe’s search for herself. The pacing is rather slow, but is segmented by chapters, or “commandments”- morals that Chloe has designed for which to live by. It is plain to the eye as to why Naama Kates has proceeded to win multiple festival nominations and awards for “Best Actress” as she truly doesn’t hesitate to bring Chloe to life. As real as the tone of the film is, Kates’ Chloe seems to be a real person, dancing off the screen and into the heart of Nashville.
Overall, the film shows its low budget roots, but not in a negative way. It balances on the verge of what seems to be improv as the actors flow through their lines effortlessly, and the year the director and co-writer Princeton Holt and Naama Kates spent working on developing the idea truly shows. A good watch, a good film.