REVIEW: The Girlfriend Experience

18 03 2010

I have a great deal of respect for Steven Soderbergh because in all of his directorial projects, he has never played it safe.  Even in his more conservative films, he is never afraid to take risks – for example, he gives “The Informant!” the double punch of a smart satire and a deliberate character study.

But whenever Soderbergh isn’t doing well-received studio movies, he makes a fair amount of experimental cinema.  And the thing about these movies is that they are incredibly polarizing – you either think it works or it fails; there’s not much of a middle ground.

With his latest experiment, “The Girlfriend Experience,” it doesn’t.

I’ve been taught the scientific method throughout my entire schooling career, so I can systematically dissect where the movie fell apart.  I admire Soderbergh’s hypothesis, or the general idea he had for the film.  He wanted to make a movie about how the failing economy affects everyone, even those who you wouldn’t expect.  You know, like call girls and personal trainers.  It’s a movie with ambition, and I would much rather spend my time watching a bad movie with ambition than a mediocre movie without it.

The error is in the execution.  Technically speaking, there’s nothing really wrong about the acting, even from Sasha Grey, whose only previous experience came from the adult genre.  But every performance lacks in urgency, and I felt no reason to care about the fate of any character in the slightest.

The writing also lacks, mainly because it fails to match the movie’s daring premise.  It’s too caught up in clichés and predictability, often the deciding factor of mediocrity nowadays.  We are still in the middle of this financial crisis, and maybe taking such a bold look at it is best served to wait until after it all subsides.  C- /