The Girlfriend Experience
Steven Soderbergh returns to his roots with more sex and lies on tape (now disc) in this low-budget drama about a high-class hooker in New York who offers her clients the titular relationship facsimile. Hard-core porn star Sasha Grey plays Chelsea, a 21-year-old professional who lives with her personal trainer boyfriend and keeps a careful record of her clients and the services – companionship as much as carnal – she provides them.
Soderbergh himself shot the film in a loose approximation of cinema vérité style and he further blurs the line between fact and fiction by not only having Grey play a version of herself (sans explicit sex) but also by assembling the rest of the cast from non-professional performers. Furthermore, Soderbergh’s penchant for chopping up the chronology with flash forwards and backwards here serves to underline the slice of life vibe of the film.
There’s no denying Soderbergh’s a great craftsman, but his low-key styling combined with the plot-lite script by Ocean’s Thirteen’s co-writers Brian Koppleman and David Levien makes for a somewhat tedious experience. And it doesn’t help that while Grey performs perfectly well, the part she plays is surprisingly dull. So the film’s message, that everything is commodity, falls on deaf ears.
Selected release from Fri 4 Dec.