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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

director's statement

10/10
Author: pietrobruno
31 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I researched this film by conducting interviews with johns. What struck me is what regular guys they are – dads, husbands, brothers, boyfriends, buddies, sons. Very nice guys. Because I did not want to vilify or stereotype the client, I decided that the client in Girlfriend Experience had to be the 'guy next door'.

During the shoot, I was worried that my decision not to reveal the sex-worker Adrian's face or voice would end-up being a grave mistake but I intentionally wanted Adrian to be non- existent, in order to emphasize that the prostitute does not exist. Prostitution is about male sexuality, not female sexuality. It's all about the guy, not about the girl.

What fascinates me about the phenomena of the GFE is how the client can fully enjoy the illusion of realness, while still being fully aware that it is fake. When the sex-worker Adrian says, "I love you", Daniel knows that "it's bullshit, but who cares? GFE makes us feel good". I admire that kind of imaginative complexity.

Girlfriend Experience's film style mimics the style of a GFE encounter, in that the film does not try to be convincing real; instead, the film uses cinematic codes to tease and taunt with the charade of realism. Like the GFE provider and buyer, the filmmaker and viewer are conscious of the film's simulation of authenticity, complicit in the entanglement of illusion and reality. And hopefully enjoying it!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Gritty but good

8/10
Author: foutsass (jimdi65@hotmail.com) from Canada
14 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although not much of an indie lover I saw this movie at a Women in Film fest last year. At first i found the camera work distracting but as the film progressed i got the "voyeuristic" slant that i assume the director was going for. In fact it very much added to the "documentary". The cinematography is beautiful and yet gives the effect of a minimum of stage lighting which enhances it's street feel.

The use of tag along camera work only increased my sense of intruding on this characters life. I don't believe i'm giving anything away by stating this is not a documentary as the re-creation scenes clearly inform the viewer. It's a testament to the actors that the performances all around are so natural that I would imagine the lines begin to blur as far as realism and acting are blended together.

It was interesting seeing this from the POV of the john, as every film out there seems to focus entirely on the prostitute. I had no idea GFE actually existed but of course it makes perfect sense. It's less about the sex act and more about the overall fantasy for these men/Daniel. Justification on how he can handle this lifestyle is a very powerful motivator for the main character and yet he goes against his own "code" by doing something he tells us is an absolute no.

I will say this movie may not be for everyone as it doesn't sugar coat the lifestyle. It's rather gritty but I think the director does a fantastic job of laying it out there for the audience to experience. Definitely watchable.

It's the worlds oldest profession and isn't going away anytime soon.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Oops, should have read the box more carefully

5/10
Author: Dave from Ottawa from Canada
10 January 2012

Note that it is NOT the Steven Soderbergh film of the same name. If only my local video store had been so helpful as to point this out. Anyway, since the rental was already paid, I watched it. It is done as a pseudo-documentary, with a camera crew following around a downward spiralling, sex-addicted landscaping contractor (no, really) who lives in a motel room thanks to being kicked out by his girlfriend and who is going broke paying for sex with a teenage prostitute he is obsessing over. The hooker won't appear on camera, and so her scenes and speeches are re-created by an actress on a rather cheap looking soundstage, standing in for the motel room. The constant shifting back and forth between 'reality' and re-creation makes for a somewhat disorienting experience in which it is difficult for the audience to settle voyeuristically into the usual Cops-style reality TV experience, and this is obviously the point. The audience does not get voyeuristic titillation, it gets an education in male attitudes about sex, women and women who sell sex. The viewpoint is clearly feminist, with the men emerging as users and losers, not to mention the financial victims of their own needs, while the women come off as more stable and sensible. The documentary style is a good filming choice, as it hides the low budget while maintaining the illusion of reality and immediacy. That said, there are better ways to spend 90 minutes.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Well done

9/10
Author: humbledmonk from Canada
1 July 2010

If you are looking for a big budget, Hollywood style film, you are out of luck. If you are looking for a big budget, Michael Moore style documentary, try again. There are no real action scenes, no real dramatic build ups to an exciting climax. This is exactly what it is supposed to be, a thoughtful documentary focusing on the part of an underground business and addiction that no one has tried to achieve before.

The first time I saw this movie I had the benefit of watching it with one of the actresses, who clearly explained to me before and during what the director was trying to do.

The next time I watched it, I tried to view it as a regular documentary and at that I think it did a great job, though I may still have been a little biased due to the first viewing.

Now, reading the Directors comments, it all makes perfect sense and I realize just how well done this movie really is. She really worked at making you see GFE from the John's perspective, not just from the prostitutes as most movies will do.

The movie itself is well shot and I did not see any really poor acting. Quite the opposite, it all felt real and yet not quite at the same time. Truly well done and I believe the director achieved the tone and style she was trying to create.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

NIce Piece of work

9/10
Author: supersandor from Vancouver, BC
5 September 2009

I think this is an excellent film. It's real, compelling, and intelligent. The editing pushes you along through the story with such smoothness; very well done. I actually laughed a couple times at how well some parts of the movie were cut together, you just don't see that sort of effort put in everyday. The viewer is vaulted from one scene to the next in such a seamless, but poignant way, it almost catches you off guard, while leaving you thinking it was just the way it should be. The acting is great, and it's such a unique perspective. David Lewis slaughters it. Stellar. He makes it come to life. Can't really fault the film in any way worth talking about. go see it.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

must see...

10/10
Author: tom r from United States
6 September 2009

Intelligent creation by an up and coming independent film maker.

Pietrobruno's creation gives a unique perspective to the sometimes mystifying 'relationship' between client and service provider. Specifically: Why do men, many successful and committed to friends and/or family, seek out the 'Girlfriend Experience'?

Thought provoking, honest and beautifully shot, GFE is for a small audience not bored by cerebral and visceral participation with the film's characters and story, reminiscent of the early work of the indie pioneer, John Sayles.

We look forward to future projects from this brilliant Vancouver, BC based director and writer.

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11 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

A waste of talent on a depressing and BORING production

2/10
Author: toriless from United States
19 July 2009

Ultimately this is a depressing and boring movie about a sex addicts delusional self destruction. It's shot in a documentary style with several fake "re-enactment" scenes. If you enjoy watch people on a boring course of self-destruction you'll have fun. If you're sane you'll skip this car crash and not waste your time on this well crafted disaster of a movie. I suppose somebody needs to tackle this issues of this movie but the people who did this movie clearly did it for their own glory without any concerns about how they are torturing the audience that the are boring with their "art". This movie typifies what is WRONG with the "Indie" scene in that it's more of an ego fest of production talents rather than containing ANY entertainment value. You should skip it!

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Dull mockumentary

2/10
Author: new-spirit-jazz from Germany
21 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So this is basically a fake documentary about guys who regularly see prostitutes and imagine them being girlfriends.

Could be interesting, but somehow it isn't.

I didn't like this movie. All action is filmed in a dull and uninteresting way. When the women talk, you can barely hear it because they purposely (what purpose?) quieted down their voices. In many scenes there is a flashing subtitle that reads "re-enactment" - that puts the final nail in the coffin of what is this movie's believability. Why should you engage your fantasy in something that doesn't even claim to be the real thing?

The movie also has a continuous undercurrent of sadness. That is maybe related to the fact that prostitution is illegal in the US (an absurd state of affairs to be sure). Or the un-reality of the imagined girlfriend experience. But none of these things really explains it. Apparently the director chose to make a sad movie for unknown personal reasons.

{SPOILER AHEAD - although it doesn't matter much if anything is spoiled because there is no tension anyway}

The movie also ends sadly, with the client being arrested by undercover officers for seeing the prostitute who claims to be underage. Maybe that is the movie's message?

But then, what is the message? The movie stays strangely detached from all that happens and you never really know what it's trying to say. I don't know. I feel cheated and I don't want to watch this ever again. There isn't even any wisdom or anything surprising in what the guys say - and they basically talk all the time.

Nah. This movie isn't even a turn-on.

I'll give it a 2 for the fairly original concept. And for making a movie at all. But give us something enjoyable next time, please.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Must see for any cinema fan!

10/10
Author: info-18878 from New York, NY
19 October 2009

Keywords on Ileana Pietrobruno's Girlfriend Experience: brilliant, assured, original; non-judgmental and daring. The subject of prostitutes and "johns" has never been approached like this, and the Vancouver locations create a great shadowy world.

Haven't seen the Soderbergh film of the same (similar?) title, but he would be hard pressed to top this Canadian wow-er. It's obvious that the filmmaker comes from the edit room (she edits documentaries and features) because the story and coverage are so perfect. Clearly a child of 20th century rep cinema, this is one of the best narrative works to borrow from -- and then explode -- documentary and reality conventions. Check it out.

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