Chelsea (Sasha Grey) is a high-priced $2,000-an-hour call girl in Manhattan, offering a 'girlfriend experience': she'll dress with the client in mind, go to dinner and a movie, listen attentively to talk about work and finances, and she'll provide sex. It's October, 2008: a presidential election nears and the economy is in free fall. She has a boyfriend, Chris (Chris Santos), who's a personal trainer. We are shown five non-consecutive days in Chelsea's life. She's working on her Web page, talking to image consultants, and being interviewed by a reporter. She asks clients when their birthdays are and uses that for an astrological prediction. She's drawn to a new client, a writer from L.A. Should she break her rules for him? What if it risks her relationship with Chris? Should she invest in gold? Written by
"Girlfriend experience" is a form of sex work (paid-for female companionship) in which a female prostitute behaves like a male client's girlfriend or shows (artificial) emotional intimacy beyond the sex act. See more »
We agreed to meet here and have this kind of situation, which is a transactional situation like the one you deal with all the time in your business, right? Now, we're up to this part where I'm asking you something that would actually be intresting to me, and I feel that you're holding out on me. I mean, the thing is that the inner you is really... I mean, there's... in this business it's all about appearance, right? If you weren't beautiful, nobody would be paying to bang you, right? To put it ...
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After the end credits, there's a brief scene of Chelsea washing a client's hair as he sits in a bathtub and talks about John McCain. See more »
Soderbergh satisfies because he is fearless in a way that Herzog could never be. Herzog goes toward danger in order to capture experiences, but he relies on cinematic methods and narratives models that are safe. Indeed, he never innovates or experiments here. As a result, we get lush operas about violent nature.
Soderbergh on the other hand seems ready to risk his soul, to destroy his career, to make an audience very unhappy if it allows him to surround his art. You never know; you never do. This is structurally less risky than the film he make with and about his wife, 'Schizopolis.' But it is about much the same experience.
The risk is only partially in building the character of a hooker around a genuine porn star. It is more in the assumption that close observation of the near-real will snap us into the ultrareal. Who else does this? Who else among successful filmmakers would put themselves on the line like this. Jarman perhaps, if he had been more widely seen.
And that is what happens. Because the insights here come not from what is written or what the actors do, but by what we see. The filmmaker is the character that is revealed because we define ourselves by the world we make. And he makes this, by looking for certain things between men and women. The killer risk is that he won't find it, or worse, if he does, he shows us who he really is.
The idea is remarkable. The we see through is actually interesting; he makes Sasha an attractive subject and casts his own foibles onto her boyfriend.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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