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Plot: A drama set in the days leading up to the 2008 Presidential election, and centered on a high-end Manhattan call girl meeting the challenges of her boyfriend, her clients, and her work. Runtime: 77 mins Release Date: 08 Jul 2009
Steven Soderbergh's known for pushing the envelope, in my opinion his best films are his clear his head films. His first film Sex,Lies and a Videotape is excellent, after that film he started to lack in greatness because he got caught up in the machine aka the beast otherwise known as Hollywood. Then he went back the Louisiana to clear his head and made the brilliant Schizopolis, after that wonderful and hilarious film he made his comeback with Out of Site and immediately after he made the even better The Limey. So on a roll he continued with the conventional but good Erin Brochovich and <more>
the Friedkin inspired Traffic. Traffic is really good but not as good as the totally underrated Full Frontal. Sadly he had to make some studio films and made the 3 conventional, sometimes bad Oceans films. In between the Oceans films he did some of his best work Solaris, K Street, Bubble and the decent Good German see Zentropa for an example on why he didn't completely succeed with this film . Che could be his best film but of course it's going to be good, when you have an amazing story, cast and crew working on it. The Girlfriend Experience works even better the Che because it's more in line with his roots as a filmmaker, a kind of homage to Godard an a number of the great new wave filmmakers from the 70's American and French, think Pakula, Scorsese, Altman.The Girlfriend Experience is about a high class escort living in New York an dealing with a boyfriend, clients, her business and politics. Throughout the film numerous references are made to the 2008 election and the economy. What's incredible about this film is it was made on a shoestring budget in two weeks and like Bubble the cast is made up of non-actors. Sasha Grey is somewhat of an exception in the sense that she did work on a couple of movies before this but this is her fist real film. Grey is so good in this film you wouldn't believe that this is her first film and she's so beautiful you definitely wouldn't believe that she's worked on hundreds of pornos ranging hardcore to slightly soft core. Upon hearing about her being cast I had to look her up and was shocked to find out that not only did she make hardcore porn or that she is so young but she's actually an intelligent film buff. This film works for me on a number of levels, being that it's a brilliant character study in the tradition of Scorsese and Cassavetes. At the same time being an Altman-esquire comedic drama and an homage to Klute minus the film noir. This film is never boring, always interesting and entertaining. If you love A Woman Under the Influence or Taxi Driver or Godard, you will probably like this. It's beautifully shot in scope and thank the film gods that most of the film isn't done in hand-held, it has a very classic look to it and apparently done without using any studio lighting i.e. it's shot using natural and source lighting . The editing is crisp like his previous films and like his previous films he jumps back and forth, lots of voice over and plays with time. The script is one of the best of the year and it's from the writer of Rounders, Brian Koppelman and David Levien, this is definitely their best work. I really hope to see Sasha Grey in more films, she gave one of the best performances of this year and this is likely to be her breakthrough film. Lets all thank Cuban and Wagner for having the balls to put up the money to make this masterpiece that will be studied in 20 years. Soderbergh proves his genius once again with this film. This film will definitely be on my top five of the year, rent it, buy it, see this film. Highly recommended.
The oldest profession goes art house (by moviemanMA)
Steven Soderbergh took his biggest departure in 2005 when he made Bubble. He filmed it using nonprofessional actors and using real locations to make this small town thriller all the more realistic. Like Robert Bresson before him, he creates a familiar world with normal people thrown into extraordinary situations.His latest work, The Girlfriend Experience, is unlike any other film he has done to date, the closest in comparison being Bubble. This film stars Sasha Grey, a real life porn star who plays Chelsea, an upscale prostitute trying to find a balance between happiness and a career. Her <more>
boyfriend Chris is a fitness trainer and the two seemingly exist knowing very well the extent of each other's occupation. What any other filmmaker would do is focus on how the man deals with having the woman he loves working as a hooker, like Billy Wilder's Irma La Douce. What Soderbergh does is look past this and focus on their individual goals and how they can coexist.Most of the movie shows the two characters separate from each other. We are given clues that they are with one another through pictures of the couple and the occasional conversation, but for the most part we watch them separately. They are both trying to earn more money. Times are hard for Chris because of the economy's decline, but Chelsea will always have work to do. It's picking the right direction for her career that is the problem.We jump around to different parts of the story and pick up pieces of conversations along the way. Some of them seem to be irrelevant, but in the end it all adds up. It's wonderfully constructed in an unconventional and nonlinear format.What I loved so much about this film is how I felt like I wasn't watching a movie but was watching real life people. The conversations were casual and nothing was too over the top, especially considering much of the dialogue comes from clients of Chelsea or in regards to her work. It's not quite voyeurism but it's something along those lines.I've read some criticism about the performance from Grey and how she comes off flat and doesn't belong here, but I completely disagree. I don't think she should be here because she is a porn star, but because of the way she composes herself. She isn't flamboyant, over dramatic, or immature, but is sometimes stoic, but more often than not seems to just be herself, which is ironic considering her character has a lot of conversations about not being herself with clients.This film is not for everyone. For those seeking something out of the ordinary should look no further than here. Don't expect to see a lot of raw sex. Her role as a prostitute is merely a way to convey the messages about human desires and necessities. A fantastic look into a life that is rarely if ever seen.
I just previewed "The Girlfriend Experience", Soderberg's new film starring Sasha Grey of adult film fame. All I can say, as a non-Soderberg fan, is WOW! This film is one of the best art films I've seen in more than 20 years. The camera work alone, with it's magical blend of hand-held and static shots, give you a fly-on-the-wall sensation never realized to this level before. The composition of the static shots is reminiscent of Flemish painters of the past.The film manages to blend a documentary style absent of narration, drama without the usual commercial trappings and <more>
erotic mental manipulation without use of gratuitous nudity. A masterfully written piece, directed with modern sensibility and shot with an artists eye for composition.Despite Sasha Grey's past experience in adult film, she comes off as a natural and gives the impression of serious acting chops. Does she have depth? I guess we'll have to wait and see. But she's off to a good start in legitimate film. I was pleasantly surprised by her performance.This film is a MUST SEE for anyone interested in film making or those who actually listen to dialog.
Sex is everywhere in The Girlfriend Experience, except there's no sex. (by la_fleur)
First of all, Sasha Grey, queen star of more than 80 porn films, is ironically the only professional actor in the movie, playing a character who is always acting. Grey was contacted through MySpace, but she really pulled her part off, considering she works in adult films, she plays the part really well, her performance is understated and realistic.Because the movie is set during the financial crisis of October 2008, this film is also about people obsessed with money, the true nature of the crisis, from Sasha to her clients.Her clients talk about the economy more than just having sex with her. <more>
Worried about losing their money, those highly blamed executives that people anger in public life are human and vulnerable in their private life, asking for counselling with an escort girl.When she's alone in the midst of a relationship crisis just as bad as the economical situation, we see that the economy really doesn't phase her. She's recession proof, paid in cold hard cash and no matter how bad things are, guys have needs. Soderbergh jumps around in the story but ties it all together neatly.The film looks great too, the cinematography is really modern, realistic and with intimate camera movements. However I felt the script was a bit fluffy in places, many of it was improvisation.It will certainly be an eye opener for those who are unaware of the daily business of an escort. Would have liked to have seen more in-depth analysis of the character’s history/background. Who is she? Where did she come from? What was her upbringing like? The movie ignores these details which are usually important for a character study.8.5 out of 10
Bound To Be One Of This Years Best Films (by robertmotto)
The Girlfriend Experience is the newest film from longtime director Steven Soderbergh. The story follows a high class call girl in New York City as she meets with her various clients as well as showing her boyfriend and what his life is like as a personal trainer. The film takes place about a month before this past years presidential election, and is a well discussed subject between the various characters as well as the economic downturn. The backdrop proves effective and relevant to the audience as we are still experiencing those issues today. Chelsie the call girl is played by newcomer <more>
Sasha Grey who is best known in the adult entertainment industry and is sort of perfect to play the part, but don't misread what I'm saying, the part requires a good amount of acting chops. We follow her interactions with all of her clients, along with her diary that she keeps full of all the details of her dates. Inside of these details are the events of the date, what they did together, what she wore, and how everything effected the client. The film moves along a non linear time line and it's very realistic inside of the screen you're viewing.For all the controversy surrounding Grey's other career, she gives a very honest, genuine, and very pure performance as a high class, sophisticated call girl. It surprised me to be honest, and that really doesn't happen that often in reviewing films. Conflicts arise as Chelsie has to come to terms with developing intimate feelings for one of her clients. A new girl on the scene makes Chelsie feel uncomfortable, though in a scene her boyfriend comforts her as he says "there will always be new girls, but you are the best at what you do". Grey gives the character charm, class, and distinct variety as she has to become whoever the client wants her to be. A lot of praise should be given but can't be seen blindly, for a lot of it is in subtleties and quiet hard to notice nuances that she brings to the character. We see the humanity of Chelsea near the end, and it's quite endearing, and quite heartbreaking.The themes here are a little deeper than they might appear, a working girl who protects herself from feeling anything, struggles against what her emotions are telling her. But when she finally feels something, she doesn't know what to do, also conflicting with her current relationship with her boyfriend. Slowly but surely the chinks appear in her tough armor, she becomes more and more susceptible to her feelings. The film is extremely well shot, the cinematography is gorgeous, and you feel New York City around you as the film moves seamlessly from scene to scene.This film isn't for everyone, and i don't expect it to be widely popular or a mainstream success, it's an indie film that is dialog driven. If you don't like to think and observe, then this isn't for you, but that's what is done in this film. You sit back and watch these people, nearly leaping off the screen they are so real, you feel something for Chelsea despite of her actions. This really for me is film making at it's most pure, and honest. This film will fly under a lot of radars and by most won't be seen as what it truly is. But that doesn't diminish how genuinely honest it is, and how well made a film it is.
An Unapologetic Experience with a Strange Sensory Impact (by jzappa)
The Girlfriend Experience is about a young woman working as an escort for high-echelon New York City businessmen. She offers them the eponymous experience, where they can pretend, to themselves and to others, that she actually cares about them. Her problem is that as a professional faker, the real world beckons: The financial crisis is at its apex, and she has no understanding of it on which to form any opinion. She is a purely career-minded professional woman, and her other half is a conventional yuppie as well, a personal trainer trying to make a living, struggling with the same problems <more>
with his own clients, who only want to pay for short-term plans because of the economy. The way things begin to look, the only way either of them can really get ahead is by giving all that's left of themselves that they have to give.Steven Soderbergh, a versatile, prolific and decidedly experimental filmmaker, transgresses to achieve the documentary rendering of the world of 21st century business that many filmmakers would, understandably, feel the need to dramatize in such a way that would make the characters more emotionally relatable. Soderbergh approaches edgy, difficult subject matter such as the life of a call girl, the recent economic downturn, the 2008 presidential election and the nitty-gritty of the young urban professional's problems and fears, and he does it with unapologetic pragmatism. By sacrificing the universality of emotional involvement, he coerces the viewer into a simply take-it-or-leave-it experience of literal and particular focus.He is his own pseudonymous cinematographer as usual, and captures the actions of his subjects with an unfeeling and unadorned economy, almost transparently practicing with his new toy, the RedOne, a relatively inexpensive progressive-scan camera, fresh to the vanguard of cinema technology, that allows the same depth of field and field of view as the traditional 35mm format. And with this efficient consumer camcorder concentrates from afar on what are usually either listless chats or admirably candid political debates from a rear view, the out-of-focus camera appearing more interested in the modern interior design of the countless crème-de-la-crème cafes and restaurants, brand names and foyers, implying an absolutely unbiased look at whatever is occurring as that is not being focused on. The sometimes ambient, sometimes spare music intermittently comes and goes, cutting discourteously and in one scene fading into a street performer's song rather than a personal soundtrack for Chelsea. This and Soderbergh's camera function jaggedly to lulls us into the premise of a character's subjective point-of-view before a burst of energizing visual style and loud percussion explodes back into the ordinary hollowness, as if cranking up the volume on an upbeat track and swiftly removing the headphones, making the silence louder, the mundanities more emboldened. Soderbergh's trademark editing style has us hear Chelsea's seemingly random voice-over descriptions of her clients, their fleeting appointments and what she wore for them. This is an analysis of, not a journey through.Nevertheless, the film ultimately sneaks up on you with a strange sensory impact. By the end, we feel numbed by some sort of catharsis. There may not be any attempt on Soderbergh's part, or by his screenwriters, the very talented Brian Koppelman and David Levien, to expose the film's people as characters rather than subjects, but that is its key. Money is the language everyone here speaks that betrays what they feel: Why does an affluent family man to buy a temporary woman? Is it really just the sex? Soderbergh doesn't reveal or even suggest his subjects' feelings with close-ups or rehearsed pauses, but leaves it to us to read them the way we would in real life, and we read the escort's clients, we see that what they really want is to feel like they're on a date with her. She will listen to them. She'll muss their hair. Their brilliant zingers will be appreciated with laughter, smiles, affection. They'll be teased. And by paying money for the pretext of sex---they may sleep with her, they may not---they don't have to say or even imply that they feel lonely, scared, unloved. That they are aging and their wives have grown out of them. That they don't know how to communicate with their kids.Sasha Grey, whose interest in the role and Soderbergh's interest in her evidently stems from her own fascination with French New Wave cinema, does not appear to have been cast as a gimmick, but as an element of Soderbergh's go-for-broke intention of realism. A college-age woman who's done over a hundred porn movies is going to innately bear the confident and unashamed willingness to objectify herself for a living, as is the nature of her character, who is actually not explicitly sexual and only occasionally nude. More focally, she shows proper levels of attentiveness and concern to her clients and her boyfriend, though still buries true emotions. She is fulfilling her role in an exchange. The utter execution of naturalism and the vagueness of emotion were off-putting to some critics. One talked about her performance by asking how one can tell the difference between an unskilled actor's flat performance and a skilled actor realistically playing a flat character. I tend to find the difference between the former and Sasha Grey's lies in the strikingly minute nods and shakes of her head, her extemporaneous avoidance of questions without declining to respond. Another critic said something I cannot improve upon: that this is "no date movie." Yes, in between a four-hour epic about Che Guevara and a cheeky caper film starring Matt Damon, Soderbergh slips in an extremely short but atmospherically grave microfilm of an estranged young woman who follows the new self-packaging culture to its mental, and certainly its physical, boundaries.
How to make a sophisticated movie with no money (by daniel_poeira)
A brilliant little film, economic in its resources and smart in its complex editing. However, this is not destined to be a box office hit. It is the kind of film that Soderbergh does once in a while in-between pop flicks to avoid getting bored.Sasha Grey delivers some good acting as an ambiguously shallow and ambitious prostitute who tries to survive the post-Obama post-Crisis world of depressed clients and worried boyfriend. Her relationship with her costumers and other professionals who are part of the escort world is built little by little in several out-of-order scenes. Most people will <more>
find the movie's timeline confusing, but all you have to do is pay attention to her wardrobe and everything will be fine.I must also note the soundtrack, that makes use of very interesting unknown music. I specially liked the street drummer.The images are beautiful enough to make one think "well, not bad for a movie shot on digital". Besides the old-school narrative in the sense that it belongs more to the Bergman era than to the "Wolverine III" era this movie looks and feels like the new kind of cinema that cheap digital shooting offers. And I like the way it feels.IN A NUTSHELL: For Sasha Grey and Soderbergh fans and people who actually care about cinema language. If you like Soderbergh because of "Ocean's Eleven", stay away.
Hmm, can we still call an all-digital movie a "film"?The term "girlfriend experience" comes from escort advertisements, where they offer not just "companionship" ie, sex but also things a girlfriend would do -- hugs, kisses, conversation, dinner, etc. In other words, they pretend they're not just there for the money.Porn star Sasha Grey plays the part of a high-dollar escort named Chelsea. High-dollar as in $2000 an hour. The movie follows her over the span of a few days as she is chauffeured from "clients" to designer clothes stores to upscale <more>
restaurants to her spacious downtown apartment she shares with her personal trainer boyfriend and yes, he knows what she does . They both hustle up business in their own ways -- she tries to figure out how to get increased traffic to her web site; he tries hawking his own line of workout clothes. What little drama there is comes when Chelsea sees one of her regular clients with a "new girl" named Tara who everyone is talking about. While normally very self confident, that moment of insecurity leads her to make a few questionable decisions, including seeing a sleazy escort review website operator played by movie critic Glenn Kenny . The disastrous review is read in a hilarious voice-over by Kenny, sounding like the pompous comic shop owner from The Simpsons.If you've seen a lot of Soderbergh's movies, especially his smaller projects, you have a good idea what to expect going into it. It's a "slice of life" style movie, with just the barest outlines of a plot; even much of the dialog is probably improvised. The scenes are presented out of order much like The Limey , but it's not too confusing if you don't obsess about it. It seems like nearly every shot is made with a telephoto lens; you feel very distant from the events, both physically and emotionally. But the cinematography is quite beautiful. I've read that only a few scenes used additional lighting, everything else was done with available light. Thank you digital!Grey is actually quite good in the movie. While mostly acting very reserved and in control as you would probably expect of a woman in her line of work , she can turn on the charm when she needs to, showing a crooked, sly smile. To me, the most interesting part of the film was her lunch with a journalist played by real life prostitution expose writer Marc Jacobson who keeps chipping away at her emotional armor. She opens the door to him just a little, then shuts it closed when the questions become too personal. This is a quiet film, yet I found it compelling. While there is little in the way of plot, you do keep wondering what's going to happen next.
"The Girlfriend Experience" is another fascinating Soderbergh effort, in hindsight a precursor to "Contagion". Some unformed thoughts...1. Every scene here revolves around money, upgrading one's business or advertising/self-promotion. Every character is busy trying to "take it to the next level", desperate to "up their income", rake in more cash, conquer the competition and expand their client base.2. Like "Eyes Wide Shut", this is a world in which everybody is a commodity, indiscriminately passed around and traded. Unlike Kubrick's <more>
film, however, everyone here is quite happy to network, pimp, share information and engage in mutual exploitation. But money is not neutral. Ever.3. Conversations throughout the film feel more like boardroom meetings or job interviews and the film's central romance is essentially one big business negotiation.4. The precursor here is Antonioni via Kubrick. Still, it's a very throw-away film. Soderbergh needs to put more effort into his "art house" pictures. His Blockbusters look lovely; this is rushed.5. The film's central character is played by Sasha Grey, a pornographic actress. There is some self-reference in the casting: Grey is herself a fairly driven personality, relentlessly using the film/Hollywood/porn scene to promote her name. Still, the film questions the lines between ambition and degradation.6. In the film, Sasha follows a new age religion based on "books" and "numbers". Like a stock market spreadsheet, this mathematical religion essentially assigns numerical values and "worth" to people and things. Sasha dumps her boyfriend and "upgardes" to a new man based purely on the "religious signs" generated by this religion. The big shock of the film is that the wholly irrational "number religion" - a kind of comic take on late capitalism and free-market fundamentalism - fails Sasha and allows her to leave a man who genuinely loved her. IE: it is genuine human relationships that are meaningful, rather than cold economic currency.7. You'd think that a film called "The Girlfriend Experience", which centres on a high class hooker, would examine Sasha's clientèle and show how she copes with the multiple "personalities" and "fantasies" which she must generate and project for her various customers. But no. There is no sex in this film the sex, the whoring, is implicitly the exchange of currency - the commodification of all bodies and Sasha's interactions with her clients are kept to a minimum. When we do see Sasha with her customers, she adopts a blank, very uncluttered, very uninterested, tone. Rather than create fantasy personas for her clients, the implication is that she is a blank slate upon which her customers project their desires. Sasha need not do anything more than turn up to her appointments and exist as a screen for these projections to take place.8. All Sasha's clients are implicitly aware that they're paying for a fraud. It's a consensual charade. The "faith-system" runs on shared make believe. When faith runs own...the system crashes.9. The cliché in these situations is that the client falls romantically for the hooker/stripper/call girl, not realising that it's all an act, but in Sorderbergh's film the reverse occurs. It is Sasha who naively falls for the customer, believing that he genuinely cares for her and intends to leave his wife and family to live with her. In a society where fantasies rapidly proliferate, it is now some pastoral, domestic bliss, some realm of innocence "outside" the board-game, that Sasha longingly wish for.10. By avoiding "sex", is Sorderbergh trying to avoid romanticising Sasha's profession? By abstractly equating prostitution with "every other job" very Marxist...but he directed "Che" shortly before , does he unintentionally romanticise prostitution anyway? 11. Though Sorderbergh omits the sex that Sasha has with her clients, he always includes an "after or before sex" scene in which they have a conversation. These conversations always consist of the client offering Sasha business advice or financial assistance. She alternates from a business savvy, "modern professional", to a profoundly pathetic, dead-eyed badminton shuttle, traded back and forth.12. In one key scene, Sasha visits a website promoter whom she thinks will help publicise her. Unfortunately, this sleazy man will only assist if she performs a derogatory sex act. Because the film is so subdued and makes an effort to avoid sex, this particular "request" is genuinely shocking. It is at this moment that Sasha first seems to awaken from her "eyes wide shut" slumber. This "big revelation" moment doesn't quite work, however, as the film sets up Sasha as a single minded person who would in actuality readily do as requested. But isn't our expectation itself prejudice?13. The film ends with a Jewish jeweller talking about the upcoming general elections, the late 2000 financial crisis, the Israeli/Palestine conflict and the price of gold. He takes his clothes off and then gives Sasha a warm hug. The films ends on this ambiguous image.14. We get a sense throughout the film that Sasha's clients - all businessmen and well-off personalities - turn to her to escape the uncertainties of a fluctuating economy or perhaps the dissatisfactions of a fully functioning one. She's a comforting teddy bear, but in embracing her they're ironically clinging to the very thing they're running away from. The "hyper-sweetness" of Soderbergh's final scene lonely man hugging a woman like a wounded child is complex: prostitution as an act of extreme desperation, torture even, for both parties, whilst simultaneously being comforting, tender in comparison to the brutal logic of late capitalism.7.9/10 - Nice companion piece to Antonioni's "Red Desert". See Assayas' "Demonlover", "Boarding Gate" and "Summer Hours". Worth one viewing.