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I don't really see the reason for the few very negative reviews this film has received; this is an interesting drama shot in a naturalistic style and is one of Soderbergh`s more experimental projects; as such it isn't really aimed at a wide-market audience and has more of an art-cinema aesthetic about it.

Perhaps it's because the lead actor is an ex-porn star who doesn't actually engage in any sex in the movie; after all, the part she plays doesn't require great acting skills but she is by no means bad.
The gist of the drama centres around her daily business as a high class call girl; she is independent, her clients are wealthy and although much of their small-talk concerns the financial crisis surely her position is insulated?
The action takes place on five random days across an undefined time period. In that time she works on promotional plans, meets a new client from Los Angeles, keeps an audio diary for an interviewer and meets an online reviewer calling himself “The Erotic Connoisseur”, who appears to offer an opportunity to advance her career on a more lucrative, international level.
The film is beautifully filmed, emphasising the affluent environment she inhabits and the narrow, rarefied company of rich men; there's a lot of subtlety in the way the film unfolds; it is intimate, but has a coldness about it and much of it has an improvised feel – the blurb on the box uses the word “mesmerising” and I think that is appropriate.
I accept the film won't appeal to everyone, but it has more substance than it's detractors have surmised.

The DVD presents the theatrical and alternative director's cut which differ little from each other; there is a short interview with Sasha Grey and she joins Soderbergh in a film commentary. There are no subtitles.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 January 2017
I bought this film on Blu-ray, ordering the German release (as it's otherwise only available on DVD). It's easy to select the English language version of the movie. The picture quality on Blu-ray is excellent - and, as the visual imagery is important to this film (inasmuch as it does seek to express itself as a piece of art) so I'd certainly recommend watching it in full-HD.

This is a film that, for the most part, focuses on the everyday life of a young woman (Sasha Grey) who works as a high class escort. We witness snippets of her goings-on with clients, for whom she provides a 'girlfriend experience' (that is, she behaves as if she's a lover to these men). In so doing, she finds herself being drawn into their lives - as her clients open up to her, chatting about their problems. Throughout, she's aiming to offer the best possible service - and is, ultimately, after making money and investing it wisely. Most of the clients are normal guys who simply want to pay to sleep with a beautiful woman. But there are a few who seek to use and abuse her ... and she has to live with this. Additionally, the film also focuses on her boyfriend, who works as a fitness instructor. He's more-or-less okay with what she does for a living - but does, on occasion, show jealously and anger.

The film is shot in such a way as to generate a sense of intimacy towards the central character. Note, while there is some nudity, there are no explicit sex scenes - and this is far from a porn movie. One might be inclined to feel empathy towards the main character - yet as the film develops this becomes difficult as we find that she's rather one-dimensional. And this is because, in order to provide a 'girlfriend experience', she's learnt to act out her life rather than live it in a genuinely meaningful way. In consequence, she doesn't really open up - or express herself. Rather she behaves as she thinks others want her to behave. As such, she's something of a lost soul ...

The movie is well directed, and one that presents an interesting character-driven story. But it's the acting - especially by Grey - that's stand out. Grey portrays the lead character in a highly realistic way. In so doing, she demonstrates a definite skill at acting (beyond her roles in adult films), and I'd certainly like to see her in more 'mainstream' movies.

If you're think of buying this simply because the lead is a star of porn films, and you think this movie might offer explicit content, I suggest you don't bother purchasing it. However, if you're after a nicely crafted film that explores an aspect of prostitution then I do recommend it. Similarly, I can also recommend Tag und Nacht and Maison Close - Season 1 [Blu-ray].
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on 11 February 2013
As expected from Sodenburgh quite a artsy film. I found the mixed up timeline confusing, a repeat watch is probably necessary. Good treatment of a modern subject I thought. Really shows how hard high class escorts have to work! To be agreeable but believable, make a man like you just enough to want to see you again, whatever their odd personality traits. Sasha did all this well, she was pleasant yet slightly distant from every client, a true professional. Just as she is in her adult films, but they require her to be far more lively! It treated escorting as any other job, particularly how she has meetings with people to 'raise her profile, create a certain image' which was realistic, it was rarely glamorous, though she goes to high end restaurants she isn't having an amazing time because she is working and has to be on guard. The believable problems with holding down a boyfriend. And how when it all goes wrong there aren't many places to turn. Not a bright shiny fun film to watch, but very.. interesting, as a woman I found the realism outstanding.
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"The Girlfriend Experience," directed by Stephen Soderbergh, is a study of the possible emotional consequences of selling sex for a living, how a successful Manhattan escort might find her business similar to or different from any other skilled profession, and the impact it might have on her personal life when she is not with clients.

This film does not appear to be intended to titillate or arouse, and if I'm wrong and it was meant to do either of those things it fails miserably. The central character, a top-end-of-the-market $2,000 an hour call girl called Chelsea, is played by former adult star Sasha Grey, but Sasha was apparently cast not for her undoubted beauty or because the script calls for any raunchy simulated sex scenes (there is some nudity but nothing stronger than many top-ranked actresses would agree to do in a love scene in a 15-rated film), but because the creators of the film wanted an actress who could understand and project some of the implications of selling your body as a profession.

This is a fairly "arty" film with intellectual pretensions and a plot which jumps back and forth in time. It is set in New York during the run-up to the 2008 Presidential election between Obama and McCain - and I mention that because the political and economic implications of the election are frequently discussed during the film.

The perspectives in the early scenes alternates between those of Chelsea, Sasha Grey's character, and a personal trainer called Chris, portrayed by Chris Santos. Both are shown with clients, having discussions with potential business partners such as web designers about how they can grow their business, and in Chelsea's case, recording an audio diary about what happened in meetings with her clients (presumably with their names changed) for a journalist who is writing an article about the sex industry.

Some early sections of the film seem to be highlighting similarities between certain aspects of Chelsea's business and those of other professions such as Chris's. From the beginning it is apparent that many of Chelsea's clients want someone they can talk to as much as they want sex: but similarly some of Chris's clients want to talk to him about the stock market and the 2008 Presidential Election as much as they want exercise and health advice. One of Chris's wealthy clients even invites him to come on an expenses-paid foreign holiday with his friends - an apparently innocent invitation which turns out to have laid an emotional landmine with life-changing consequences for both the main characters in the story.

As the film continues it explains the link between Chelsea and Chris and further explores some of the emotional pressures and hazards which her profession might impose - for exammple she gets some advice for free about how to invest her savings which would normally cost a fortune, but many of her clients seem to need a shrink or a social worker more than they need a sex partner. In particular the film brings out how difficult it might be to have a normal life when you are not with a client.

This is a well-produced and clever film, and possibly a useful antidote to anyone who might be under the impression that high-end prostitutes or indeed the wealthy men who buy their services are likely to have a great life - most of the characters, including those who are professionally very successful, come over as sad pathetic losers - but I did not find it to be a tremendously entertaining film. Indeed, in places it is quite depressing.

One unusual feature concerns the names of the characters in the film. More than three quarters of those characters who are given a name, in the script or in the cast listing at the end, share part of that name with the stage name or real name of the actor or actress who portrayed him or her. Hence Chris is played by Chris Santos, a website owner who calls himself "The Erotic Connoisseur" but is addressed onscreen as "Glenn" is played by Glenn Kenny, a character called Zizzo is played by Peter Zizzo, etc.

If you know and like Stephen Soderberg's films you will very likely have a good idea what to expect from this one and probably won't be disappointed. But if you are looking for an erotic thrill, or anything light-hearted and funny, leave this film alone.
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on 27 November 2011
Reading the reviews for this film it is clear that you either love it or hate it. Personally, I find it hard to understand the negative comments. Anyone who understands Soderbergh's less mainstream films would surely have a fair idea of what they were letting themselves in for! As it is this is a mesmerising and thought-provoking little film; understated, atmospheric, beautifully shot and intelligently edited. Praise must go to Soderbergh for continuing to make films like this when he could easily just settle for the big studio bucks. Praise also for choosing Sasha Grey, she is a revelation!
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on 5 April 2017
I think you would have to be an American of a certain age and pretension to enjoy this film. No plot, difficult to follow. The worse kind of pretend documentary style narrative. I was not interested enough to finish watching it.
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on 6 March 2014
Those who expect to see some soft porn action in this film will be bitterly disappointed. Honestly, there is not even a modicum of titillation in this 90 minutes empty film. It should have been rated PG. It is effectively a bland documentary without coherent narrative. The central figure is a hooker who aspires to be a sophisticated escort so she mixes with stressed-out investment bankers, jet-set businessmen, white slave-ring recruiter, dirt-digging writers and the like, but none of the clients have either depth of character or intriguing idea that could develop into a well plotted story. The scenes jump minute by minute from restaurant to restaurant focusing on dialogues between the girl and the clients or her friends but the girl does not have the necessary conversational skill. Most dialogues last one or two sentences each and stop, and they offer no insight into either the life of a call girl, or that of a client. Furthermore, there is hardly any bedroom scene to compensate the lack of plots in the story. Occasional shots of hotel room only offer a glance of the girl bored stiff by listening to her clients moaning about the stress in their jobs. The effect is that it is neither a soft-porn b-movie, nor a thought-provoking documentary. The mention of the current world financial crisis in this film only made it even more irrelevant to the subject matter.

The reason I went to see the film is that I was reading an autobiographical novel based on the blogs posted on Internet by a certain Dr Brooke, alias Belle de Jour, a self-proclaimed ex-call girl in London. As a doctor with her scientific knowledge of human anatomy combined with her acrobatic skills in bed and a willingness of trying any kind of risqué practices have no doubt qualified her as an excellent hooker who was able to pull all sorts of punters in London. Her blogs are, as a result, full of details of her relations with men of unusual sexual tastes or weird erotic fantasies. If you expect to see similar events enacted on silver screen, Alas, no luck.
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on 9 August 2011
I like Soderbergh's little movies (like Bubble) and this one is really excellent too, up to the point where I watched it none stop. I got kinda obsessed with Sasha Grey, the way she looks in this movie and just her presence alltogether ... and basicly everything about this movie, how it is shot, how stylish it is and what out. The Blu Ray is worth getting for the Director's Cut + this is the very first first time I watched a movie with the comment ON (from both Soderbergh and Grey); ofcourse this is not your average normal beginning-middle-end movie. The director had no such intentions; just a very cool movie, beautifully shot and like I said very stylish.
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on 21 March 2013
The Girlfriend Experience, by Steven Soderbergh is a great movie with Sasha Grey, it's Sasha's debut into mainstream and I find her really good as an actress!
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on 30 July 2013
Excellent, wonderful tunes and very soothing. One of the best soundtracks I have heard in a long time. Fully recommended.
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