Monday, June 29, 2009

The Girlfriend Experience

The Girlfriend Experience was one of Steven Soderbergh's more experimental films that he shoots on an inexpensive (at least when compared to what is used on a big budget production) digital video camera and he was able to complete production relatively fast. With this film being more in line with his films Bubble and Full Frontal, I'm reminded of just how god damn versatile of a director Soderbergh can be. He can handle big budget escapades like his Ocean's Eleven series and then he can bring the drama all the while being stylistically superior to his peers with films like Traffic or Sex, Lies, and Videotape. For example, The Girlfriend Experience tends to consist of medium or long shots that keep us at a distance from the characters as if the camera is part of the shield that Christine (Sasha Grey) puts up when work calls. What is her job? Some might call her a prostitute but she is something more, she is a cross between a prostitute and an actress. She actually goes and pretends to be the girlfriends of various men and she acts as if she has developed these everlasting emotional bonds with these guys only to tear them away come morning. The movie takes place in the days leading up to the 2008 Presidential Election between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. At first I was curious as to why this time-frame was being picked. Well, a main issue of the presidential debates centered on the economy and many Americans are being bombarded with the news of how screwed our country is, so why not just turn and give into our desires? Sasha Grey embodies desire in this film and I honestly can't believe that not even a former porn star but a current porn (or "adult film" to be technical) star can nonetheless give this deep of a performance... it is like we are watching the method actor do his or her method acting. At the end of the day, the experience is that of having watched a good documentary. We almost feel like a fly on the wall with the events having just the right level of passivity. Christine's (known to her clients as Chelsea) home life is also examined as we see her personal relationship with Chris who is a personal trainer and as much as he and Christine bicker, he is also trying to sell himself out in a way so he can climb up the social and economical ladder. Soderbergh's technique is flawless, and I wholeheartedly agree that we have our first masterpiece of the year, and it looks like too simple of a movie to be true, but nevertheless it is.

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