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The Girlfriend Experience

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars
Released hot on the heels of ‘The Informant!’ – though actually made before it – comes an equally rewarding Soderbergh film. But this time it’s even more indie in spirit, low-budget, mostly boasting non-professional actors (save for 21-year-old porn star Sasha Gray as the lead), and offering not so much a plot as an impressionistic portrait of a lifestyle dilemma.
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.
Written by Geoff Andrew

Release Details

  • Rated:12A
  • Release date:Friday 4 December 2009
  • Duration:77 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Steven Soderbergh
  • Cast:
    • Sasha Grey
    • Chris Santos
    • Peter Zizzo
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