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The Girlfriend Experience (2009)

tomatometer

64

Average Rating: 6.3/10
Reviews Counted: 123
Fresh: 79 | Rotten: 44

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

56

Average Rating: 6.4/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 15

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

audience

35

liked it
Average Rating: 2.8/5
User Ratings: 32,864

My Rating

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

R,

Drama

David Levien, Brian Koppelman

Sep 29, 2009

$0.6M

Magnolia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

Watch It Now

Cast

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All Critics (124) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (79) | Rotten (44) | DVD (2)

Naturalistic performances and stylish, semi-documentary-style cinematography and editing (both courtesy of the director) make for an engrossing, insightful study of internal and interpersonal conflict.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie ends so abruptly (it runs a scant 77 minutes), it's a toss-up as to whether Soderbergh was trying to make an auteur statement or simply lost his mojo.

June 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is one of the director's small, experimental, semi-improvised provocations, and if it doesn't push too deep, it's pointed enough to leave a mark.

June 25, 2009 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There are layers upon layers here--a porn star taking on a serious acting role in which she plays a woman whose job is to make herself an object of male fantasy--but it's unclear whether Grey is aware of any of them.

June 8, 2009 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

After it's over, it quickly vanishes from memory, and viewers are on to the next transaction.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As much as there is to admire about Soderbergh, his indifference to time sequencing hurts the story here.

May 26, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The tagline sleazily states: "See it with someone you fuck," when, in fact, you should just fuck someone you fuck. This is one experience you'll want to miss out on.

August 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Gordon and the Whale
Gordon and the Whale

This is a movie that deals with the sudden, terrorizing loss of something that in the long run probably isn't spiritually important but sure does freaking sting right now. The natural order is lost, and no one knows what next to grab onto.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin
Deadspin

It's a critique of capitalism by the Ocean's auteur, no less.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

The inner-self is not for sale

July 20, 2011 Full Review Source: JWR

...yet another failed cinematic experiment from Soderbergh...

December 10, 2010 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Like a sneaky P.I. seeking weakness, Soderbergh places his camera behind everyday barriers. In half the time, "The Girlfriend Experience" offers as haunting, relentless, incisive and fierce a commentary on human interaction as "Fight Club."

September 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Suite101.com
Suite101.com

The whole film carries a sort of documentary aesthetic (unsteady camera movements, uncomfortable close-ups, inconsistent sound, etc.) but it remains subtle and unobtrusive throughout.

April 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Fan The Fire
Fan The Fire

The nature of men and the business of relationships

March 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

Soderbergh prouve une fois de plus sa versatilité et sa grande créativité, et ce, indépendamment de la taille du projet ou des noms avec lesquels il est appelé à travailler

March 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Panorama

[Star] Sasha Grey gives a sympathetic performance as the ultimate fantasy with a stand out debut...

December 18, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

This may one day be an interesting time capsule, but it's a lacklustre drama.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Sunday Times (UK)

A rather uninteresting example of the small-scale films Soderbergh likes to do between more expensive and expansive movies.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

It doesn't say anything too deep, but it says it with crystalline style.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Independent on Sunday
Independent on Sunday

Human feeling dares to outstare, for a mini-moment, the world of accounting, commodification, ecstasy-management.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

full review at Movies for the Masses

December 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

It's deliberately chilly, and feels like a series of overheard conversations rather than a story, obliging you to listen for barbs among the trivialities.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

The Girlfriend Experience is no date movie: Soderbergh offers a snappily paced but tonally bleak snapshot of an alienated young woman who has ridden the new culture of personal branding to its psychological and physical limits.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4

Staggeringly unsexy but strangely compelling.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

I don't think Soderbergh has ever missed quite as badly as this: a shallow, negligent piece of work, badly acted and casually put together.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

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.
July 30, 2012
blkbomb
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.
May 24, 2012
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

You have to admit, he got a hell of a performance out of a porn star.
December 16, 2010
kenstachnik

Super Reviewer

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