Most people pay anywhere from $300 to $3000 and more for a GFE, but I managed to snare one for free the other night. And it wasn’t just me; there were a few of us in on it. Too many to count, but upwards of 100 people seems like a safe bet. All of us… one of her. There were times when things got a little messy, and other times when all the action just stopped making sense. I’m pretty sure I saw at least one person pull out about half-way through and just leave. Personally, I think that’s a little rude. We were all there to have a good time and enjoy, so just take it like a man. Just because you don’t like what you’re experiencing is no reason to zip up and leave. (I think we all know that’s a blatant lie)
For the uninitiated, a GFE refers to a Girlfriend Experience. With an escort. Hence the cost and subsequent discretion. It’s one of many terms used to describe services offered by escorts. I’m sure you know them all, you pervert. As mentioned above, approximately 100 people came (no pun intended) to experience this particular GFE. Oh, the girl? Sasha Grey.
Well, to be precise, the girl’s name was Chelsea, and she was portrayed by Sasha Grey. In a movie. A movie called The Girlfriend Experience. I bet you didn’t see that coming. (Another pun… there’s no end to sexual puns is there? I’ll be sure to throw in a few more groaners as we thrust ahead.) (no pun intended) Anyway… Mongrel Media in Toronto presented the screening and while I was happy to have secured a few passes, this film did not induce MSOG. (look it up)
The film is actually directed toward a mainstream audience, though after watching it I’m not entirely sure who Steven Soderbergh thinks is his audience. It’s not a porno, as Sasha Grey’s name may otherwise suggest, but the role doesn’t seem like much of a stretch for her. And I’m sure she’s been stretched plenty of times. (pun)
The film centers on several days in the life of an upscale escort in Manhattan, set against the backdrop of the 2008 U.S. election. You can insert your own “Sasha Grey could stimulate my economy any day!” jokes here. I’m above that sort of thing.
I won’t give too much away, nor could I even if I wanted to. Soderbergh has worked on such fine films as the Ocean’s trilogy (11, 12 and 13), Traffic, and the revolutionary sex, lies and videotape. Here, he crafts an interesting story but muddles it up through much of the movie. Jumping back and forth in time is a formidable cinematic device when used properly, but in The Girlfriend Experience, it only serves to confuse the viewer. Perhaps it’s meant to be more along the lines of Memento, making sense upon subsequent viewings and benefitting from the knowledge of what comes next. (pun) But I’m not going to give Soderbergh the credit here as I don’t believe that was his intention. Whatever his intention was, I’d certainly like to know, as would another 100 or so people in last night’s theatre, I’d suspect. My highly-informal survey of two other couples who attended the same screening confirmed those suspicions.
Sasha Grey is getting a lot of buzz over her role in the movie as Chelsea. While she does an admirable job, it would have been more impressive had the role called for more depth. She’s at the top of her game as an escort in New York City, has a successful and long-term relationship with a decent guy, lives in a posh condo and has money to burn on designer clothes, expensive haircuts, a car service and a personal trainer. Good thing, as most scenes consist of her eating, drinking or fucking. Not a bad lifestyle.
As the economy tumbles into disarray, Chelsea and her boyfriend are forced to rethink their priorities, each having financial decisions to make affecting their respective futures. But while her boy seems to be trying to get ahead in his game to better provide for both of them (he’s a personal trainer… those guys aren’t dicks at all…), she begins to blur the lines between her profession and her personal life. When she seemingly stops caring about one, the other suffers as well. It’s not long before a few bad decisions come back to bite her in the ass. (Greek) Though she’s probably used to that sort of thing. (I think biting costs extra.)
The film certainly has its moments and characters. Chelsea’s boyfriend seems like a great guy at first, caring, sweet and supportive of her line of work. By the end of the film though, he has become needy, controlling, insecure and a little reminiscent of George Costanza. Chelsea herself is cold, emotionless and dull. It was also pointed out to me that she would often wear the same outfit on her “dates”. The scene involving an online escort reviewer is realistically sleazy (who doesn’t know a guy like that? Come on…), and the final scene of the movie is unintentionally hilarious. I wish I could give it away, but all I’ll say is it involves Chelsea on the job with a Hassidic Jew. That last scene actually made me wonder if Hassidic Jews have sex with their kipas on. Extra protection?
While I left the theatre with the feeling that nothing in the film had been resolved, I did kind of enjoy that aspect. That’s life isn’t it? There’s never really any resolutions… just stop-gap solutions until the next problem breaks. Maybe Steven Soderbergh made the film a little too realistic for some viewers. Maybe he just could have been a little less art-house and made a little more sense. Maybe that’s what he intended. Maybe that’s not really what people want. Maybe I just wrote a review for a movie I never really intended to write a review about.
On a personal note, I saw the movie with my lovely girlfriend who pointed out to me that one of the hotels that hosts Chelsea and her clients is New York’s Gild Hall on Wall St. Coincidentally, the girlfriend and I had some experiences of our own at Gild Hall earlier this year. I recommend the place, as would Chelsea I’m sure.