Friday, September 18, 2009

The Girlfriend Experience (Rhoades)

Was “Girlfriend Experience” as Good for You as It Was for Me?

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Philosophically, I don’t have anything against prostitution. As a consultant (my day job) I sell my mind. So what’s wrong with someone selling her body?

As the trailer for “The Girlfriend Experience” puts it: The perfect relationship has a price.
Or as a john in the movie observes, “You get to date a gorgeous woman and when it’s done it is done.”

“The Girlfriend Experience” is turning tricks at the Tropic Cinema.

Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh (he gave us “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” and “Traffic” as well as those “Ocean Eleven” movies) chose to hire non-actors and improvise their dialogue in his new film. The one pro he hired was Sasha Grey, a porn star. After all, this is a film about sex. Among her more than 175 videos are “Sasha Grey Superslut” and “Swallow This 12.”

This is the story of a high-priced escort who specializes in giving her clients what she calls “a girlfriend experience,” a pseudo relationship with no strings attached. A guy’s fantasy, right?
Chelsea (Sasha Grey) is a Manhattan call girl who figures she has it made. She’s self-employed, makes $2,000 an hour, and has a boyfriend who accepts her lifestyle.

This low-budget indie covers five days in the life of Chelsea, just prior to the 2008 Presidential election. Shot in an artistic cinema veritÈ style, the camera allows us to play voyeur while Chelsea meets with clients and interacts with her boyfriend. And as the film’s promo says, “When you’re in the business of meeting people, you never know who you’re going to meet.”
So why did a big-deal director like Soderbergh do a movie about an upscale hooker? “I think it was just an opportunity to explore some ideas about how we define pleasure,” he says. “Why does kissing require an incredible surcharge in the sex industry? What is that about? That’s the thing that GFE’s do that prostitutes don’t … Here, you’re paying top-dollar to be able to make-out, and I think that’s interesting.”

Don’t expect to see actual sex. “I decided to just focus on … this fantasy that you are in an actual relationship for those two hours, or for that night.”

How did Soderbergh come to cast an adult film star in the lead role? “I saw the article in Los Angeles Magazine about her, which was published in the summer of ’06,” he says. “And, the way she talked about herself, her reasons for getting into the adult industry, and the way that she planned to navigate the adult industry didn’t seem typical to me. I’d never really heard anybody like her talk about the business that way.”

Sasha Grey’s performance is getting lots of good buzz. Is she a great actress? Or was it just typecasting?
[from Solares Hill]

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