Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Girlfriend Experience

If you count both parts of Che as separate films, this is Steven Soderbergh’s fourth film to hit UK cinemas this year; not bad going for a director who began 2009 being (mis-)quoted saying he was soon to retire. The Girlfriend Experience sits firmly in Soderbergh’s ‘experimental’ pile, as it’s shot in a very immediate handheld digital style, and features porn star Sasha Grey in the lead role. Her character, Chelsea, makes her living from giving wealthy clients the experience of the title: company, conversation, sex and whatever else they want. Soderbergh parallels Chelsea and another character, Chris (Chris Santos), a personal trainer who is working equally hard to make a name for himself in his industry; we discover the reason for this parallel later.

Grey, fully clothed for most of the film, gives a beguiling performance, showing little emotion and offering only a few hints as to Chelsea’s reasons for doing what she does. Soderbergh is interested in presenting life as a series of transactions, with everyone trying to earn their keep with what they have. Explicitly set in the context of the current financial crisis, it makes for compelling, provocative viewing.


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