Monday, May 25, 2009

THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE (2009)


Written by David Levien & Brian Koppelman

Directed by Steven Soderbergh


Where & When: Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood, CA, May 25, 2009 1:10 PM


In "The Girfriend Expereince", Steven Soderbergh's latest drama, Sasha Grey (who actually makes her living as porn star) plays Christine, a high class prostitute who works under the name, "Chelsea". Chelsea charges top dollar to people to spend quality time with her and she earns her money by playing the dutiful and understanding "girlfriend" of men who don't have the time or energy to find a real one.

She keeps a journal where she lists each encounter and details everything down to the designer labels of each piece of clothing she was wearing. This logging of her experiences and all of the luxuries her profession enables her to acquire appears to give a healthy boost to her self-esteem. Still not satisfied with her success, Chelsea decides to bring even more awareness to her "brand".  First, she connects with a man who will update her website, then meets with a journalist who wants to interview her for a story before finally meeting a man who is willing to set up a lucrative gig in Dubai and write a positive review of her escort services in exchange for a "sample" of her work.

Chelsea has a very understanding boyfriend, Chris (Chris Santos) who is a personal trainer. He also is selling himself, not physically of course, but trying to get ahead in his field. Money and objects are very important to both of them which makes them seem to be a perfect couple.

Money was an even bigger concern to them at this point of time since this story is set during last fall when the American economy went into the toilet. We see how that life-altering event effected this couple's livelihoods. A serious problem arises in their relationship when Chelsea meets a married client and has a feeling that he could be "the one".

I was hoping "The Girlfriend Experience" might take us in a new direction with another film about the world's oldest profession, particularly because Mr. Soderbergh was involved. But even with the documentary-style film making and the use of non-professional actors, the film is not fresh or inventive. It's actually quite boring.

I just couldn't connect with Chelsea and could care less about her life. The part where she really lost me was when she was telling her boyfriend that she was going off with the married client for the weekend. He is obviously upset since they agreed she would never do that but she tells him its something she has to do and that he's being selfish! I just can't understand why he would want to even consider staying with this woman. Ms Grey plays Chelsea as icy and very self involved but I'm not so sure of how much acting we are actually seeing.

I found the character of Chelsea's boyfriend to be completely unbelievable. I suppose it's possible a guy might be okay that his girlfriend is a hooker but I don't believe that this guy would really be proud to have her as his woman. He seems like a nice guy--delusional but nice. I just don't think he would be the type of person to settle for that.

I was disappointed with "the Girlfriend Experience" but I know that Mr. Soderbergh's films can be either a hit like "Out Of Sight" and "The Limey" or a miss like "Solaris" and "The Good German" but I'm just glad that he is around. He is one of the few American directors willing to challenge audiences with unconventional and innovative cinema. I, for one, appreciate that and will always be willing to go along for the ride.