Posted by: ianstrope | January 14, 2010

The Girlfriend Experience

The Girlfriend Experience 2009 director: Steven Soderberg (“Kafka”), writers: David Levien (“Rounders”), Brian Koppelmen (“Rounders”)

You like those Ocean’s movies? The eye behind those is also responsible for this movie though you might not notice. Director Soderberg has been around since the boom of “indie filmmakers” in the 90’s he had initial success with Sexs, Lies, and Videotapes which was a film I never quite understood or found all that interesting.

What is interesting is the way that Soderberg has been able to navigate his career in such a way that he makes successful Hollywood pictures some Oscar stuff and these tiny indie films that not too many people know about.

Though Ocean’s 13 came out awhile ago Soderberg has been busy and actually directed a handful of projects such as the epic (though I didn’t see it but it’s long so there you have it) Che.

But this review is about his most recent quick and dirty DV project The Girlfriend Experience. This movie is shot in such a way that most of the action is captured in long shots with long takes such that the watcher feels like a voyeur on the life of this aspiring professional level escort (re: whore) in NYC. Set right as the 2008 Presidential election is coming to an end and the turmoil of the economic collapse is being felt the worst on Wallstreet. GFX (as I’ll call it) seems to confuse the audience by making snyde references to the clients of the callgirl as they obsess over government bailouts and feak out about the idea of a socialist revolt or something. It’s all pretty superficial and serves little to ellucidate the narrative which is further convoluted by the editorial choice to assemble the scenes out of chronological order even splitting some scenes all to serve some notion or gimmick that is lost to me.

When Soderberg did this with The Limey I felt he created a stream of conscientiousness in the film that worked quite well but here I don’t think the narrative is strong or exciting enough to allow for such liberties from traditional storytelling. That said the movie is not without worthwhile performances by non-stars (at least not of the non-adult movie industry) IRL pornstar Sasha Grey plays the lead character with the sort of listless vapidity that seems quite authentic to that type of I don’t know Capitalist woman living off her looks with a dash of cunning and deceat.

And though it seems more important or serious than it is I think that some moments of the film are meant to have legitimate humor, dark though it may be, and this is something I rather enjoyed. So I suppose that fact that the movie was less than 90 minutes (though it felt kind of long) and that it is something kind of different coaxed me into liking it a little more despite myself.

Rating: Three stars out of Five.


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