Comments on watching and making films.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

DVD - The Girlfriend Experience

The Girlfriend Experience finally came out on DVD, which means I finally got a chance to see it. It came out for about a week, when I was still living in Texas, and I missed it, so of course I ended up having to wait to see it (which really sucks, because I like seeing as much stuff as I can in the theater, especially Soderbergh's work).

The film tells the story of a New York City escort by the name of Chelsea (played by adult film actress Sasha Grey), and how she handles her life, her clients, and her boyfriend, a well meaning but obviously dense guy named Chris (played by Chris Santos). Chelsea treats her escorting as more than just meeting men and having sex with them for money. She feels as though she is providing a full service package in which she goes out with these men, has conversations about whatever they want to talk about, and does whatever they want. She is not just a hooker by any means, and in order to prove that, she is attacking this thing that she does very professionally, which keeps her boyfriend happy. Until, that is, she does the very unprofessional thing of falling in love with a client.

The Girlfriend Experience is a tough film to crack, at least for the first half. It comes off as a seemingly random grouping of events that happen in Chelsea's life, and to a lesser extent her boyfriends life, until she meets this writer client that she falls for, which is when the film really starts to coalesce into a film (something with a more discernible story). You have to be patient with this film, and the last half of it is the pay off. The movie is carried, primarily, by Sasha Grey, which is unfortunate, because she really can't act that well. There is no enthusiasm in the role, at all, no difference between happy or sad, angry or glad. She delivers lines with a fairly wooden quality that any B-list actress would have been able to handle with, at least, some flair. I may be one of the few to say this, but it honestly comes off as her casting being a publicity stunt, as though Soderbergh was wondering if he could ruffle a few feathers and get people interested if he put a porn actress in the role, because, honestly, ANY actress could have played this part, and any actress could have probably played it better than Sasha Grey.

If you watch the DVD, definitely watch the alternate cut in the special features, if you're only going to watch one version. It leaves out some really boring and pointless scenes involving the boyfriend and some rich buddies of his on a plane to Vegas, and makes the film feel a little tighter, even though it runs about the same length some how... All in all, The Girlfriend Experience is definitely worth watching, but, I for one will be happy when Soderbergh gets back to making real films and stops goofing off with this stuff for HDNet.

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