Deluxe Manhattan callgirl Chelsea (Gray) gives good company: for $2,000 an hour she offers regular upmarket clients not just sexual satisfaction but looks, decent conversation, agreeable company – what they’d like from a real girlfriend. She’s mapped her future meticulously, and even the personal trainer she lives with is cool with her business plan. But a couple of unforeseen events rock the boat: she visits an ‘erotic connoisseur’ whose offer to help raise her online profile turns sour, and she finds herself, simply on the evidence of a phone call, unusually attracted to a potential new client.
Set during the run-up to the 2008 presidential elections, this is no sex film (though it does go as far as a kiss); nor, for all the characters’ talk of money, work, Obama and other timely issues, is it a dry political tract on the ethics or economic basis of prostitution today. Rather, the film takes a curious but clear-eyed and compassionate look at one young woman’s attempts to maintain near-absolute control of her life, even when new, complex emotions arise. Naturalistic performances and stylish, semi-documentary-style cinematography and editing (both courtesy of the director) make for an engrossing, insightful study of internal and interpersonal conflict; while an affecting coda merely confirms the understated, non-judgmental tenderness underpinning the entire movie.