The Girlfriend Experience (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/12/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 78 mins

Impressively directed, inventively edited drama from Steven Soderbergh with an intriguing central performance from Sasha Grey and a script that takes a few well-aimed swipes at the emptiness of the greed-obsessed financial culture embodied by the characters.

What's it all about?
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, The Girlfriend Experience stars porn star Sasha Grey as Chelsea, a high-priced call girl who lives and works in Manhattan. There's very little in the way of plot: Chelsea meets clients, encounters a dirt-digging journalist (Mark Jacobson) and has an interview with an extremely sleazy website owner (played, to the sniggers of in-the-know reviewers everywhere, by US film critic Glenn Kenny), whose favourable review, for a price, could boost Chelsea's career.

Meanwhile, Chelsea's relationship with gym trainer boyfriend Chris (Chris Santos) becomes fractured when Chelsea starts to develop feelings for one of her clients (David Levien).

The Good
Grey gives an intriguing performance as Chelsea, using a flat delivery throughout and portraying her as curiously unemotional; it's strongly implied that this is deliberate, because the website owner’s devastating critique of Chelsea's personality actually rings true and you find yourself in the awkward position of agreeing with him. However, fans of Grey's work should probably note that there's no actual sex in the film.

The film is brilliantly structured and edited throughout, with various scenes occurring out of sequence, sometimes even within the actual scenes themselves. For example, an early scene shows the second half of an angry argument between Chelsea and Chris, but it's not until much later in the film that we're shown the first half of the scene and the cause of the argument is revealed.

The Great
The film is beautifully shot, using hi-def video cameras throughout, whilst the sharply observed script takes several subtle digs at the emptiness of US financial culture, most notably by having every character talk continuously about money, the stock market, their latest deal and so on. It's also made clear that both Chelsea and Chris (who has his own money-related subplot involving a trip to Vegas with some wealthy clients) are themselves treated as little more than commodities.

Worth seeing?
The Girlfriend Experience is a superbly directed, brilliantly edited drama with an impressive, if unconventional, performance by Sasha Grey. Recommended.

Film Trailer

The Girlfriend Experience (15)
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Content updated: 17/10/2017 10:54

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