The Girlfriend Experience (2009)



Critic Consensus: Steven Soderbergh's latest lo-fi production is strikingly crafted but emotionally vague.

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Movie Info

Set in the weeks leading up to the 2008 presidential election, "The Girlfriend Experience" is five days in the life of Chelsea (adult film star Sasha Grey in her mainstream film debut), an ultra high-end Manhattan call girl who offers more than sex to her clients, but companionship and conversation--the girlfriend experience. Chelsea thinks she has her life totally under control--she feels her future is secure because she runs her own business her own way, makes $2,000 an hour, and has a devoted … More

Rating: R (for sexual content, nudity and language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Brian Koppelman, David Levien
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 29, 2009
Box Office: $0.6M
Magnolia Pictures - Official Site


as Chelsea/Christine

as Reporter

as Chelsea's Girlfriend

as The Erotic Connoisse...

as Jewelry Shop Owner

as Interviewer

as Chelsea's Driver

as Restaurant Maitre 'd

as Happy Hour

as Businessman

as Chatty John

as Stockbroker
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Girlfriend Experience

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Critic Reviews for The Girlfriend Experience

All Critics (135) | Top Critics (34)

We also find ourselves wondering about the real Chelsea, but Grey plays her as such a chic, chameleonlike enigma, she remains beyond our grasp. It's all part of the game: enticing but frustrating, the ultimate tease.

Full Review… | October 1, 2014
Associated Press
Top Critic

The Girlfriend Experience proves that a visually striking film can be made on the fly. But grab-and-run is a more fruitful strategy for images than scripts.

Full Review… | October 1, 2014
Top Critic

The woman is a total void. She can barely string more than five words together in a single sentence before lowering her eyelids to a suggestive half-mast.

Full Review… | October 1, 2014

Given the film's timestamp and the illusory nature of Chelsea's transacted affections, she may be the Aughties bubble economy incarnate.

Full Review… | October 1, 2014
Stop Smiling

Grey's face is mostly inexpressive, a dutiful mirror that soothes and deflects the egos she's paid to cultivate, while hiding deeper secrets. And in the mask of those impassive features, Soderbergh finds a sad world of unwitting nuance.

Full Review… | October 1, 2014
Maclean's Magazine

Her beauty, independence, and stock portfolio notwithstanding, Chelsea's tale is a timely, tragic one told with typical Soderbergh finesse, a sly, sleek merger of sex, lies and hi def video.

Full Review… | October 1, 2014
Film Threat

Audience Reviews for The Girlfriend Experience

Chelsea: After he got off the phone, we made out for a while and then he asked me to masturbate, which I did. Then he masturbated while watching me. He made another appointment for November 3rd. 

"See it with someone you ****"

The Girlfriend Experience is another one of Steven Soderbergh's experimental films. It is in the style of a movie like Bubble more then a movie like Ocean's 11. He filmed it on a small budget in a matter of two weeks with a cast that has never acted before(except Sasha Grey, but her normal films include deep throating or anal). It's extremely short and also feels like the audience is distanced from the characters. The movie doesn't do the audiences any favors when it comes to excitement. The movie is all about thought and character, and could be off-putting in that respect.

A "sophisticated escort" goes about her life and we watch it take place. She has a boyfriend who is okay with the whole thing, but he seems to want it to stop through his dialogue. He hints at it, but doesn't just come out and say it. The plot is really not there. It's more just a character driven movie that has some statements to say about the Obama/McCain race and the crumbling economy. This whole movie is Chelsea's and the brunt of the film falls squarely on Sasha Grey's fingers. So did she deliver? Well, sorta. She wasn't half bad, and because of that, it's the same with the movie as a whole; it wasn't half bad. 

In the end, I always have fun seeing a Soderbergh film for the first time and The Girlfriend Experience was no different. It wasn't a masterpiece by any stretch, but it was a decent little experiment. Not as good as Bubble, but still pretty good. I'm always open to movies like The Girlfriend Experience though; especially when someone like Soderbergh is directing. These type of experimental movies can be some of the most realistic movies you'll ever watch. Soderbergh's Bubble and Van Sant's Elephant and Paranoid Park are movies that come to mind. The only thing that is lacking in The Girlfriend Experience to create that same realistic effect are the performances. The Girlfriend Experience's performances just aren't good enough to create it.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer

An original though detached and shallow study of the economic meltdown of 2008, seen through the lenses of a New York call girl (Sasha Grey), and how she deals with her various clients. While director Steven Soderbergh does a brilliant job picking a perspective on a subject like this and having a "fly on the wall" presence throughout, the film's inability to enamor or push beyond its initial thoughts on the economy prove to be very disappointing. It is still pretty good considering how Soderbergh filmed this as well as the fact that this does feel like an authentic look at a major event, but his inability to get inside his character's heads as well as not knowing exactly how to end his film mars its enough to say it is not worth an automatic recommendation. It is not bad, it just had the potential to be so much more than it is.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

You have to admit, he got a hell of a performance out of a porn star.

Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

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