Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Girlfriend Experience

The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh, 2009) [5]

It's been Soderbergh's career to follow up big box office pictures like the Oceans series with these more "experimental", low budget films. Focusing on an upper-class escort (Adult film star Sasha Grey) and her interactions with her New York clientele, The Girlfriend Experience definitely takes more chances visually and structurally than Soderbergh's popcorn fare. Grey's character is more than an escort; she's a representation of the title, someone who these men can feel more attachment and share candid feelings, more than just a sex worker. Most of these interactions are dealing with the economic meltdown and the 2008 Presidential election, as the men run on about how each of them is being fucked by the poor economy. It's at these moments that the film turns as its not really so much about a high-class hooker. Soderbergh uses Chelsea as a vehicle to get in and examine the upper class of New York and the film becomes a reflection of a certain culture at a certain time. Even Chelsea's boyfriend, a personal trainer, gets caught with some Wall Street douchebags as they take the company Gulfstream to Las Vegas, where they get a suite at the ultimate starfucker casino, The Palms. Chelsea also takes the time to namedrop what designer shoes, dress, and have lunch at Craftsteak. It's this interaction of the film and its characters with a certain element of society that I find most interesting. I never find Chelsea or Grey herself to be that interesting. There are scenes where Chelsea is being interviewed by a journalist who wants to get to the "real" Chelsea. Grey, like her character, throws the wall up at the right time, to a predictable result. The viewer is left with questions unanswered even though we really don't need to have them either. Chelsea falls for a client but brief glimpses are all that are seen until it's called off. That sequence is sort of a general analysis of the film; that there is never much going on beyond the surface of the film, that nothing ever really goes beyond the experience and not the real thing.

No comments: