Movie Review Rewind: The Girlfriend Experience (2009)
The Girlfriend Experience is not about sex. Actually quite the opposite. It’s about conversation and companionship. That’s what these guys want when they call Chelsea. Now I’m not saying they don’t have sex. Chelsea and her clients do, but “the girlfriend experience” offers more than just sex and sex doesn’t always happen. These men want someone to talk to and for someone to listen to their problems.
This film is about Chelsea (Sasha Grey), a high-end Manhattan call girl who seems to have her life in order. She charges $2500 an hour, and I would say that’s a pretty good living. Neither though she is a call girl, she is in a serious relationship with Chris. Chris is a dedicated to their relationship and accepts the way she makes money. Chris is a fitness trainer who also charges by the hour, but its no $2500.
They both have clients and have to serve to their needs. Chelsea and Chris have different jobs, but they are both trying to make the same thing: money. Their relationship hits a speed bump after Chelsea breaks one of their rules that involves her work. But it’s not what you think. It does not involve sex, but with love instead.
Steven Soderbergh directed this film and he seems to always be experimenting with how he can make them. But he can also afford to do that. He has had critical and commercial success with Erin Brokovich, Traffic, and the Oceans trilogy. So he is able to make films like this, Bubble, and Full Frontal.
Soderbergh did this film pretty quick and with a small crew. And I read that besides one scene, every thing else was filmed in natural light. And he’s right. There are a few scenes that seem too dark and one scene that contains too much exposure. However, most of it looks slick and classy. The film is only 77 minutes, but it’s enough to understand Chelsea’s life and career. This is not Soderbergh’s best by no means. I think directing Che was a bolder move and more of a risk. But this film is daring as far as the subject matter and having an adult porn star as your leading lady.
This brings me to the star of The Girlfriend Experience, Sasha Grey. She is terrific in her first mainstream role. She really captures the essence of a call girl who doesn’t care what people think, and she’s confident in what she does and comfortable in her own skin.
The story follows her life and it’s right before the 2008 Presidential Election. So a lot of the issues discussed between Chelsea and her clients is very relevant to the times we live in. Most of her clients are worried about the economic crisis and the millions they make now instead of the billions they use to. The dialog and the worries of these characters sound very familiar.
I think this film is an accomplishment as far as the story and it’s relevance to the times we live in. Soderbergh did a good job with trying new ways to tell a story. I have never seen Bubble, but I did see Full Frontal. And I enjoyed this film a lot more than Full Frontal. The film is slow and told out of order, which can be confusing. However, it’s unique and original. Not everyone will enjoy it, but some people will appreciate it for what it is and what Soderbergh is trying to do.
But I must give the most credit to Sasha Grey. This being her first mainstream role and working with an Oscar winning director is pretty damn good. A lot of porn actresses never can cross in to mainstream because they already have this certain image and are looked down upon for it. Now I do realize that acting in a major film and acting in a porn film is different. You have to have certain qualities to do both. And Soderbergh gave Grey a great opportunity and she has all of those qualities to do whatever she wants.
“Nature Boy” Brandon Vick is the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and star of Brandon’s Box Office In Your Mouth. Follow him on Twitter@SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.