The Girlfriend Experience

Year: 2009
Production Co: Magnolia Pictures
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Producer: Mark Cuban/Todd Wagner
Writer: David Levien/Brian Koppelman
Cast: Sasha Grey

Steven Soderbegh is shaping up to be my favourite director. You know when you're in a Tim Burton, Robert Altman or Stephen Spielberg movie, but Soderbergh extends his talents to every possible niche and genre, from the broad commerciality of the Ocean's Eleven series to zetigeisty experimentalism of Schizopolis. Hence it's very hard for me to dislike any of his movies simply because I'm so interested to see what style he's going to attempt (and most often master) next.

He didn't disappoint me in this love letter to an America losing its innocence. The 2008 election is looming and the world is plunging into an economic crisis. For people like expensive callgirl Christine (Grey) and her clients, the party might soon be over.

She has a very nice place in upscale New York, diarieses the expensive fashions and shoes she wears to see her clients in her dispassionate voiceover and maintains a relationship with a handsome personal trainer.

It wasn't too clear to me whether Soderbergh was trying to say anything, I think he was just capturing the mood of a moment in history. Christine goes about her day managing her business and offers various men the expensive escort service that gives the movie its title, and we see doubts creep onto her inexpressive face here and there.

First are her fears that she knows she can't stay on top (as it were) forever when a younger, peroxided, buxom competition shows up. There's also the shame of being played when a slimy businessman uses a lucrative work trip to Dubai to avail himself of her services for free.

If you believe the blogs, Soderbergh is saying something about the commodification of sex by casting real life porn actress Grey. They could be right, but I found it more interesting how so much of Christine's world wasn't about sex, but the gloss of pretend reality with the expensive clothes, fancy lunches and the personality of Chelsea she offers to men – some of whom don't even want sex.

Grey is a very pretty girl with smoky eyes and a doeish face but I think Soderbergh knew what he was doing casting her. She can't act (or at least doesn't here), and that's what he wanted for the part – a girl who's all surface gloss and front, and whose real self is hardly ever on show.

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