The star of “The Girlfriend Experience” looks a little bit like a young, sultry Demi Moore, but this movie is much more “Indecent Proposal” and not so much “Ghost.”
Sasha Grey, an adult film actress (read: porn star) leads this Steven Soderbergh movie about an upscale Manhattan escort and her relationships — both with clients and her committed boyfriend.
The most surprising — and most interesting — thing about the flick is that there is no sex in it.
A brief flash of female full-frontal is all they give you. There isn’t even any wriggling beneath the covers. Though you will somehow feel a little dirty watching it, it seems Soderbergh intends for us to read between the lines instead of peek between the sheets.
With a significant amount of the dialogue chatter about the state of the 2008 pre-election economy, a big theme in the movie is capitalism and the working life. While Chelsea (Grey) spends time and money trying to take her business to the next level, her boyfriend is seeking to do the same. It was a fairly interesting aspect of a movie featuring a porn star, but it wasn’t the most thrilling.
We are invited to be voyeuristic, and everything from the red lights to the long, intense conversations while the camera sits still and keeps one shot makes the audience feel they are invited in to spy on the life of a woman whose job is mysterious to nearly everyone (except for that creepy guy sitting in the back row who has clearly obtained similar services). And, let’s face it, that’s fun.
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Sasha Grey, Chris Santos
Run time: 77 minutes
Seen at: AMC Loews Boston Common 19
Although the movie never crosses the line into boring, there is a lull in the middle that might tempt you to run out for more popcorn.
As for the acting itself, the luscious Grey turns in a surprisingly deft performance. Her acting is understated and subtle but stands out among an otherwise so-so cast-with the exception of funny-guy Glenn Kenney, who plays the rather offensive escort reviewer, “The Erotic Connoisseur.”
Chelsea comes off strong and confident, but lurking behind all that is a woman who can’t let people in. She keeps everyone at arm’s length and it seems as though she can’t admit she needs anyone, while so many need her.
Thanks to Soderbergh’s direction, the movie takes on a bit of a suspenseful feel. Things are revealed slowly, and the movie moves back and forth through time making it more compelling than it otherwise may have been. It keeps you interested and focused and keeps a simple plot intriguing. It’s also got a few laughs tucked in there. But it’s the way the characters are slowly revealed that will keep your mind on the movie long after it’s finished.
The last scene will floor you. It’s odd and awkward, and without giving too much away, it brings the movie to a perfect point reminding us that we all need companionship in ways we don’t even understand.
“The Girlfriend Experience” felt similar to the movie “Closer” with its dark exploration of human relationships. It’s a little exciting, a little naughty and a little bit of a character study.
Don’t expect a thrilling, fast-paced plot or witty one-liners here. If you head into the theater looking for something a little bit different, maybe a little bit gloomy, but somewhat deep and revealing, you won’t be disappointed.
Way too awkward for a first date, bring friends you can chat about the movie with. Afterward, hit up a swanky bar for dirty martinis to get your high-class on.
In the end, the obvious and expected theme that everyone is a little insecure and lonely doesn’t feel cliche. Chelsea’s job is not as dirty as it seems-she is simply giving people what they need most: companionship.