The Girlfriend Experience (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Girlfriend Experience (2009)

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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 boyfriend who accepts her lifestyle. But, when you're in the business of meeting people, you never know who you're going to meet.

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Cast

Sasha Grey
as Chelsea/Christine
Christina Nadeau
as Chelsea's Girlfriend
Mark Jacobson
as Reporter
Glenn Kenny
as The Erotic Connoisseur
Elon Dershowitz
as Jewelry Shop Owner
Mark Jacobsen
as Interviewer
Vincent Dellacerra
as Chelsea's Driver
Ken Myers
as Restaurant Maitre 'd
Kimberly Magness
as Happy Hour
Timothy J. Cox
as Businessman
Ted Jessup
as Chatty John
Jeff Grossman
as Stockbroker
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News & Interviews for The Girlfriend Experience

Critic Reviews for The Girlfriend Experience

All Critics (136) | Top Critics (35)

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
NPR
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | December 4, 2009
Time Out
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 26, 2009
Toronto Star
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 25, 2009
Globe and Mail
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 8, 2009
The New Republic
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Girlfriend Experience

½

Though the film's subject may not appeal to everyone, it is fascinating how Soderbergh uses a low-budget, experimental approach to take an honest look at the private life of an escort played by porn actress Sasha Grey as she deals with her clients, her work and her boyfriend.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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
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

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