The Girlfriend Experience (2009)
This may be Stephen Soderbergh’s most accessible throwaway experimental bobble, and yet even a movie about a high class call girl played by real-life porn star Sasha Grey gets tedious. Set amidst the economic meltdown in the fall of 2008, we toggle back and forth between the professional lives of Chelsea (Grey) and her boyfriend (Chris Santos), a personal trainer. Chelsea’s services are more akin to a date than a quick romp between the sheets. Said “girlfriend experience” includes dinner, talking, a deep knowledge of her client’s interests so she can relate, and perhaps some late night cuddling and maybe, just maybe, sex. There are multiple parallels involving the idea of prostitution, Chris sells himself and his services to his gym clients much like his girlfriend; but where does any of this add up? The movie is told out of order for little benefit and there isn’t so much a climax but a dissolution of plot. The realities of a New York City call girl having a committed relationship can be intriguing; at one point Chelsea says that the clients want her to be herself, but if that were true they wouldn’t be paying her. However, when Chelsea decides to ditch her man of 16 months because her astrology book told her this Hollywood client might be “the one,” the audience loses any sympathy. Once this happened I just checked out. At a mere 77 minutes, too much of the movie is consumed by Chelsea’s life style of high rises, fancy restaurants, limos, and powerful businessmen. It can feel like a big screen episode of MTV?s The Hills, following the empty exploits of shallow twits. Grey is flat throughout, and maybe that?s the point to display how disconnected she must be to make sexual encounters just work. Let’s just say that she shows more promise in I Wanna Bang Your Sister (actual title).
Nate’s Grade: C+