The Girlfriend Experience directed by Steven Soderbergh is a quiet, cool film with no personality. The film’s look and silence are notable though, overall, audiences are not likely to leave feeling satisfied or entertained. Instead, audiences are likely to walk away impressed with the cinematography. Soderberg, who has produced prominent films like: Pleasantville, Good Night, and Good Luck, and Michael Clayton to name a few, is only likely to be remembered for the ambition behind The Girlfriend Experience versus its execution.
The film follows the self-labeled, high-end escort Chelsea (Sasha Grey). The opening scenes show Chelsea on a date with a young, obviously wealthy man who could easily be her boyfriend. It is not until the audience sees her receive payment the following morning, that it becomes obvious what she does for a living. As the film progresses, the audience sees Chelsea attempt to better her business, and follows her on dates with other men, some of which do not end with sex, but intimacy.
Interestingly enough, The Girlfriend Experience also shows Chelsea with her live-in boyfriend, Chris (Chris Santos). Chris is a personal trainer, who trains wealthy Wall Street-types, similar to Chelsea’s clients. As the story develops, the audience learns that the two have established rules, rules she asks Chris if she can break, in order to help her status as a high-end escort.
What makes The Girlfriend Experience so intriguing is the idea that an escort could function in a real relationship, all while marketing herself as a women who provides men with the intimacy she provides to her boyfriend Chris. Also, the theme of money, power, independence, and isolation is moderately-well executed.
What will leave audiences wanting more is the lack of character development, especially in Chelsea. While at first, her quiet, cold, indifferent persona work, especially to show how her business platform function, the events that lead up to the film’s climax do not lead to any character insight, arch, or change. It seems that this film is getting press mostly because its star comes from the pornography industry, and because its director is Steven Soderbergh. For audiences who seek an almost silent film that parallels the current economic issues the country faces from a unique perspective, The Girlfriend Experience may be a film to look into; though it is likely that audiences won’t be left satisfied by Sasha Grey, this time.