Chloe Domont credits her love of movies to her father. "He wasn't in the business, but he was a cinephile," the L.A. native says. As a young girl, she has a formative memory of watching 1981's Oscar-winning Reds, co-written and directed by and starring Warren Beatty. "He loved that movie. But that's one of those classics I feel like will never, ever get made again."
"So, I knew that I wanted to be a screenwriter at a pretty early age, because I grew up on movies," she reflects. "I was making short films by the end of high school, and then I applied to NYU. That's where I transitioned more into directing. Film school was where I was like, 'No, no. I want to direct too.'"
Dumont's feature debut is Fair Play, a 21st-century thriller executive produced by two-time Oscar nominee Rian Johnson. Set in the cut-throat world of hedge funds, the film centers on a couple (Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich) whose power dynamic is upset by an unexpected promotion. Following its premiere at Sundance, Fair Play ignited a bidding war before being bought up by Netflix.
"When I wrote this script, it unlocked something for me as a writer and a filmmaker," Domont explains. "I got very clear about the kinds of films I want to make: I want to make films that take people on a ride. I want to keep people on the edge of their seat. I want to explore provocative shades of gray, and I want to make films that shock people, that mortify them on some level, and ultimately have something really piercing to say at the end."
Below, the writer-director shares with A.frame the five films that made the biggest impact on her, and taught her the power of a good ending. "I think everything has to build to that last line. But that's just me."
Directed by: Sidney Lumet | Written by: Paddy Chayefsky
Network is number one. It's the greatest movie of all time, and that's a fact. That's not opinion, okay? On every level: The writing, Paddy Chayefsky's screenplay is unbelievable. It's explosive and provocative and has some profound things to say, and it's entertaining and it's funny and it's heartbreaking. I always believe there's not much you can do if you don't have something on the page, and I think — the best movies — it all starts with the script. Obviously the direction can elevate it, and the performances can elevate it, but it has to be in the script. And the script that they had, it was just unbelievable. So, it's no surprise that the performances are insane. Faye Dunaway plays one of the greatest, most complicated female characters that you've seen on-screen.
And I would just say it's a master class in tone. The scene when they're backstage in the newsroom and no one's paying attention to Howard Beale, and he announces that he's going to kill himself. No one's paying attention, and then the scripty that's looking at the script notices that wasn't a line. And she's trying to notify people. She's like, 'Howard just said he is going to kill himself,' but the producer's flirting with an assistant. He's like, 'What?' She says, 'Howard just said he was going to kill himself.' That scene blew my mind. And then where the movie goes, and the monologues, it's masterful on every single level.
Sidney Lumet is a God. He's my number one in terms of directors.
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick | Written by: Stanley Kubrick and Frederic Raphael
Eyes Wide Shut is my favorite Kubrick movie. I was so enamored by it on so many levels, and it's also a film that you can't completely figure out. That's exciting and I think also important. Generally, I'm drawn to films centered around a relationship or the unraveling of a relationship, but what he does with the mystery elements of it and everything that's surrounding the unraveling of this marriage, I think it's his best film. At least, it's definitely by far my favorite of his.
I feel like it has the greatest ending line of any movie. They're in FAO Schwartz and the kid's shopping, and Tom Cruise just had this whole night, or has he? We don't know. He's there, tears in his eyes, and she's like, 'When we go home, we have to do something really important.' He goes, 'What's that?' And she says, 'F**k.' And then credits. That's it. It's the greatest last line of a film ever, and how that speaks to people in relationships and merit. And the performances in that last scene, that lead to that last line, are just incredible.
Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich | Written by: Alvin Sargent
I think Paper Moon is one of the greatest heist movies of that genre. And a father-daughter story will always gut me. It just will. But this one is fun, it's entertaining, it's heartbreaking. It's everything you want in a movie, and it just looks incredible. The little girl is my spirit animal. And again, the last scene just absolutely breaks my heart. When he's driving away and he stops, and he looks in the rear view mirror. And the way you slowly see her run up the hill and they reunite. The way that that's shot and the way the tension builds to that final moment, it's amazing.
Written and Directed by: Maren Ade
I am a sucker for a father-daughter story, because there aren't that many good ones. You have so many father-son stories, you have so many mother-daughter stories, but you rarely have father-daughter stories. And if you do, most of them are not very good. So, the good ones, they just gut you. And Toni Erdmann is so unique. It is so hilarious in such an uncomfortable way, and that to me is entertainment — when you're laughing because you're so uncomfortable.
The characters are so extraordinary and complicated and ugly, and what they are doing to each other — you have no idea where it's going to go. The scene where he comes in in the big f**king costume is one of the greatest scenes of physical comedy I've ever seen. And when characters are pushed emotionally to the brink, when she's pushed to the place where she decides to host her party without any clothes because she can't find something to wear, that verge of emotional breakdown is just so inspiring. I loved it.
Written and Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
The film is epic. And I feel like if it was any year other than the year of No Country, it would've won everything. But oh my God, what a film. It is epic on every single level: The way it is shot, the score is insane, the performance is unbelievable. That film is electric on every level — on a filmmaking level, but also as an audience and a fan just watching that film.
I love watching two people try and destroy each other. I love watching people go after each other on every single level — emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and then physical abuse, that is my thing. And again, the last scene is amazing. And then the last line, 'I'm finished!'