Written by Adrienne Ambush
See it with someone you ****
About a “$2,000-an hour Manhattan call girl who offers more than sex to her clients,” The Girlfriend Experience is the mainstream film debut of Adult Film Star Sasha Grey, who before this movie was known only for her other roles. Playing character Chelsea, Grey puts on what Esquire Magazine calls a “Totally Captivating” performance as a hired companion who spends most of her time throughout the movie juggling countless numbers of men and her steady boyfriend, who seems to have no problem at all that his girlfriend is a hired prostitute.
Playing Chelsea’s boyfriend Chris, Chris Santos portrays an athletic trainer who while worried about the current recession is making sure his butt is covered by asking his clients to buy bigger packages from him while also spending the rest of his time looking for more opportunities in other gyms.
Thinking she has it all with a loving boyfriend and endless stacks of money in her purse, Chelsea is surprised when she hits a speed bump in shape of the recession. Because of the government, the men who pay Chelsea’s rent aren’t sure where they’re going financially speaking which makes her wonder if her job is as secure as she thought it to be.
This film, while at first glance seems like it would provide endless amounts of nude sex scenes, interestingly enough does not showcase one steamy moment other than brief kissing. Instead it portrays two individuals, who just happen to be in a relationship with one another, both trying to make it in the outside world while talks of money dwindling continue to float on around them.
This is a movie I think a lot of people can relate to with the current economy that is surrounding us, whether you are an entrepreneur who works for yourself or a paid employee, this movie shows that the recession affects us all, in relationships and within ourselves.
In the beginning of the movie, you have to squint to see the main characters because the director has things such as wine glasses or taxi cab’s protective barriers in front of you that you have to look through to figure out who is speaking with whom.
The Girlfriend Experience is shown only in a wide screen format 2.35:1. You are made to feel like you are watching a low-budget film instead of one that was written by the famous Steven Soderbergh. There are a lot of scenes that appear orange due to the lighting in the film and because of the angle of the camera you feel like you’re somehow spying on the characters instead of watching a movie about them. The dark areas of the movie take away from the film because you spend half the time trying to figure out if it’s someone’s face you’re looking at or a piece of furniture. Some parts of this film are shot using a camcorder and features bright lightings and a flash that melts people’s faces together.
While Girlfriend Experience’s video leaves a sort of bitter taste in the viewer’s mouth, the audio to the movie is actually phenomenal. With the option of either using a 5.1 English Dolby digital or a 2.0 English Dolby digital, audiences have a choice of what format they want to hear the movie played on. I chose to watch the DVD using the 5.1 English Dolby digital sound system and was pleased with my choice. In one scene, main character Chelsea was seated in a limo with one of her clients, and even though sounds of traffic were heard around them, you could still hear crystal clear what both characters were talking about. Great audio system.
Spanish subtitles are available.
Unrated alternate cut: Shows the movie over again in its entirety, this time adding on scenes that they had to take out due to time constraints.
Commentary: This is done by director Steven Soderbergh and main character Sasha Grey.
Hdnet: a look at the girlfriend experience: Explains what the meaning behind the “girlfriend experience” is.
Because of the fact that this was shown at Sundance and is an indie movie, I give it a lot more credit than had it been a movie that the director had taken months to put together, but because of the fact that there was a lot of back and fourth between the scenes, some that were shown after scenes that hadn’t even been aired yet, it confused me to no end. I hope the director works on filling the blanks in easier in the future.