The Girlfriend Experience (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 78 minutes
Starring: Sasha Grey, Chris Santos
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Despite being continually let down with Soderbergh's experimental, for-me movies (like The Good German. Ugh, what a horrible experiment in torture that was), I thought I was in for something good with The Girlfriend Experience. Consider my expectations totally let down. I mean, you don't get much cooler - at least for a movie about the economy - than this. I mean, Sasha Grey pulls off a pretty good Hepburn in the trailer and looks the part of high class. But prepare to not feel too much connection with anyone in this movie and to be totally confused with what's actually happening.
Chelsea (played by real life porn star Sasha Grey) is a high-priced escort who not only delivers in the bed, but provides her clients with the "girlfriend experience." She's there to listen and have a conversation, go to dinner and see a movie. And boy, there's a lot of listening going on in this movie. Mainly about the nervousness of Wall Street execs expressing their concern for their enormous wealth evaporating. But apparently it doesn't hit them hard enough to not pay thousands of dollars for this illusion of a relationship. As Chelsea puts it to a journalist who's interviewing her: They're paying for her to be somebody that's she's not. If they wanted her to be herself, they wouldn't be paying money.
The film does cover some interesting territory, like the aforementioned irony of wealthy men paying for something they really can't afford or need. But also Chelsea has a real boyfriend and her profession continually puts that relationship to the test. Although as I've pointed out - it's hard to feel anything for these characters - they all seem so weirdly isolated from the real world. It's hard to connect when you know that most of her clients are wealthy dickheads and even Chelsea and her boyfriend seem to live a fabulous lifestyle. And there's really no mention or showcasing of how much they love each other - why are they in this relationship?
But the big problem with this movie lies in how it's presented. One scene is in the present, while the next one will take place weeks (possibly days?) before. And I didn't figure this out until halfway through because there's no mention of a timeline. And the timeline is important to this movie because Chelsea's relationship with her boyfriend starts to crack and there's clues leading up to this, but it's told in such a convoluted way that I couldn't follow it. You see things happen and half an hour later it sort of explains itself, but I'm not too sure. I'd have to watch it again and that's not happening anytime soon.
So those of you expecting lots of glorious nudity and sex scenes, you're going to be let down (time for some Skinemax!). And if you're expecting an engaging experience about relationships and living in our troubling economy, you will be let down. But at least we got a cool trailer out of it.
Rating: Not Worth Paying For