The Girlfriend Experience Review: Whole Prostitution
Forget about drugs and obscenities.
If there ever was a wholesome film about prostitution, Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience would be it.
A mere 77 minutes, the docu-drama follows Chelsea, a fictional high-end Manhattan call girl, who offers more than just sex to her clients; she provides companionship and conversation—“the ultimate girlfriend experience.” In the meantime, she must balance her growing business and impeding competition, on top of an insecure boyfriend and an unexpected connection with a client. Oh yeah, and it is all set in the weeks leading up to the 2008 presidential election. Think credit crunch.
It takes a porn star to play a convincing call girl. With 80 films to her name, Sasha Grey, 21, brings a raw subtlety to the role of Chelsea—not to mention an enviable silhouette. Like a Megan Fox with smoky eyes and jet-black hair, she comes off as cold and detached, describing her interactions with men of all shapes and sizes in a matter-of-fact tone. But the voyeuristic lens reveals something completely different.
“He didn’t even hug me, stand up or say goodbye,” she candidly admits of a long-time client whom she later spots with a younger escort. Whether she is recounting her murky meeting with a crass erotica connoisseur or standing disillusioned in the cold waiting for her new client—behind her poker face, Chelsea is sad.
To add to the obscurity of Chelsea’s reality, Soderbergh, mashes up scenes. We travel back-and-forth between past, present and future. The fight with Chris in their posh flat, the girl chat in the restaurant, the interview with the journalist and various client relations are cut and pasted at Soderbergh’s whim. It is dizzying. But it is also mesmerizing.
The Girlfriend Experience does not pretend to be highbrow or art house. It is merely a portrait of elite escort Chelsea. We can figure out the rest.