Sunday, December 20, 2009
The Girlfriend Experience (2009)
If there is one thing to be said about Steven Soderbergh is he puts his down time to good use. Although he never really has any downtime, it seems he is either always directing something or planning on directing something. Here he shot something in two weeks, on the very cheap, and got it out there. It doesn't look cheap, Soderbergh knows how to shoot things and make them look great. He's never lost his eye since his earliest indie days. But this movie is so of a particular moment, right before the 2008 elections, that it is almost like it should be put into a time capsule to capture the anxiety of the time, particular the financial strain people were feeling. But what Soderbergh is dealing with here is, very wealthy people, feeling the pinch, and in particular a high priced call girl/escort who seems to be trying to build up a clientele so to speak. She is the center of the story, her boyfriend and others sort of flit around on the periphery. Its with her boyfriend where the idea of roles and role playing comes in, where does the life of the call girl end and her regular life as a girlfriend begin? Whats interesting is that for a movie ostensibly about this call, there is little to no sex in the whole thing. Its not about sex as much as people navigating these tricky waters and looking for some sort of connection. One character even mentions that they should probably be seeing a shrink, but instead he has Chelsea (the call girl) over to talk to. We see a lot of conversations where men tell her their anxieties and even ask her for advice. It isn't until the end, really, when we see an act that seems to be both therapy and something overtly sexual, but has layers of other meaning as well, especially in the idea of roles and the slots we choose to put each other in has humans do. Overall, it is more interesting than anything else. I find it fascinating that Soderbergh can make such a movie on the cheap, thats barely 80 minutes long, and still have it resonant the way it does. I'm not sure it all works, but as interesting time capsule, its worth checking out.