Thoughts on The Girlfriend Experience

Saturday, August 28, 2010 9:19 PM By Simon

-An escort who specializes in 'the girlfriend experience'--providing feigned emotional intimacy with her clients on top of sexual, a literal companion--goes about her job and her boyfriend, a personal trainer, over the background of the 2008 economic crisis and election.

-Sasha Grey. She is a porn star. This has been the main gimmick the ads have pushed. It would imply that there's tons of sexay times to be had in this, which is just not true. She's naked once in the entire movie, and it is in an entirely non sexual context. Oh, sure, skimpy lingerie here and there, but for the most part, director Steven Soderberg (my latest director obsession) does not exploit the fact that she's an (ahem) adult actress. Getting that out of the way.

-Anyway, I'm mixed about her performance. Her line delivery can, at times, be brutally flat (such as when she has an argument with her boyfriend), and at others, she can excellently balance the coldness of her profession and the conflict that's going on in her own head. I could say that in this movie, she is cold and dull, unaided by some lifeless dialogue. But, when you think about it, it makes sense. She's an escort who's personal policy is to remain as emotionally distant as possible from her clients, a habit that falls into her personal life.

-Only someone who has had sex for money, in this case, a porn star, could've gotten that across. Let's face it, had they gotten a 'legitimate' actress for the role, someone--the actress, the director--would've turned it into a bitchy role, made the main character unlikeable, that or a typical 'woe-is-me-I'm-a-hooker-just-waiting-for-the-right-john-to-wisk-me-away-sob' character. Only once does she cry, and it is a striking scene, because by and large, her demeanor has been chilly and controlled, so when she finally does start belated emotions, you feel for her. You understand, completely, why emotional distance is necessary, something, again, I'm not sure could've been pulled off by anyone with less than personal experience.

-But then, Grey does a precarious balancing act between repressed emotional sincerity and narcissism.

-Anyway. The movie itself is a rather bleak look at human nature, but there is something strangely soulless about it. Grey does slightly elevate the dialogue, which is tedious and arbitrary (I guess the point, but whatever). The cinematography, glossy semi-shaky cam, makes the entire thing feel like a fashion shoot, alien and disconnected, but oh-so-pretty to look at.

-Another experimental Soderbergh movie that could've been great if it...I dunno. Good night.

22 comments:

Runs Like A Gay said...

I really liked Sasha's performance in this, the flatness of her delivery completely worked as a metaphor for the hemmed in life that she's living.

Oh, and the review guy was hilarious.

Boyfriend was cute, but dull beyond belief, his performance didn't work for me.

August 28, 2010 at 10:38 PM
D Swizzle said...

Sasha Grey fascinated me.

August 28, 2010 at 11:23 PM
Danny King said...

The movie is a little bit bland in terms of how much it delves into the character and the story, but I do think Grey is excellent, and at 77 minutes, it's hardly difficult to sit through.

August 29, 2010 at 10:06 PM
Will said...

Grey was a lot better than I expected in this, but I didn't expect much. I prefer these little Soderbergh movies to his big-budget ones and this one was fairly enjoyable, if a bit empty.

August 30, 2010 at 7:08 AM
Kevin said...

I thought this was pretty mediocre. Grey wasn't the problem. The film thought it had so much to say about the times, but it never really SAID anything.

August 30, 2010 at 11:46 AM
Fitz said...

An interesting character analysis and maybe more. It doesn't take much of a reach to say that it might have been a parable for the prostituting we all do in our lives: job we hate, being friendly to people we can't stand, etc.

August 30, 2010 at 1:24 PM
Simon said...

Runs like a gay: The boyfriend made me want to get a nail gun, he was so boring.

Danielle: You didn't see it, fool.

Danny: I thought it dragged even for it's 77 minutes, actually.

Will: Empty is exactly how I'd put it.

Kevin: Yeah, it just had a few clients moaning about the threat to their way of life, and the need to invest in diamonds, er, gold.

Fitz: The only problem is, we don't get paid to talk to people we can't stand. We just do it so nobody writes a blog post about us.

August 30, 2010 at 3:04 PM
James D. said...

I loved it, even if I was not sure what to make of it at first. It took me a few weeks to appreciate it all.

August 30, 2010 at 3:26 PM
Burning Reels said...

Look like we're mostly in agreement - Grey was definitely better than I thought she'd be too and it had quite a cool atmosphere running through it but ultimately it may have worked better as a short film.

August 31, 2010 at 4:41 PM
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