Teenage girls are less interested in being a photographed smiling like a Betty Crocker image and leading the life of a simple housewife. With the help of technology, they are now capable and willing to post voyeuristic pictures of themselves on their Facebook and MySpace pages and are far more engrossed in being the next modern day Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan (flashing a Brazilian wax and all) of the world. And speaking of prostitutes, this fascination of the world oldest profession continues (along with a recent Elliot Spitzer scandal for inspiration) has made its way again into a film titled, The Girlfriend Experience, which premiered Tuesday, April 28th at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Directed by Steve Soderbergh, who gave us Sex, lies and videotape in 1989, The Girlfriend Experience is a modern day’s account of an upscale $2000 an hour call girl (who’s character is clad in La Perla lingerie, Michael Kors suits and Costume National pumps, not a streetwalkers ensemble). What makes the film even more intriguing is that Soderbergh cast adult-film star Sasha Grey as the call girl and left the rest of the cast to complete unknown actors.
The movie shows us a more sophisticated (yet slightly mundane) encounter she has with her live-in personal trainer boyfriend, with the parallels of her dining at Blue Hill and sleeping with clients — minus any violence that in reality could occur when being a call girl. Instead of what may be expected as a film about sex, men and prostitution, we watch a lesson in how people’s work affects them, where all the characters we meet are either challenged to take their career to the next level or are bitching about their job in some capacity because of the economic climate.
This film is basically an improvised account (shot with a 4k-red-digital-camera) set in the ever-temperamental October 2008 where the state of the economy and politics play a very significant roll as an important backdrop. Grey is looking to acquire new clients and by doing so she advances herself on to an “escort journalist” who in exchange for sex, she will get a boasting review on-line. She also seeks a new website along with a better use of a search engine and meets with a “deal-maker” who claims he can brand her with a book or a fashion line like he previously claims to have done with other escorts. Then there is her personal trainer boyfriend, who sadly seems like a goat looking through a fence, making $150 an hour and approaching his clients to buy more sessions, seeking out other gyms and retail stores to sell his clothes.
But what does that mean for the future generation of women who may watch this film making it look all too easy? What about the dire statistics of women who are murdered, beaten and taken for their earnings by clients or pimps? The Girlfriend Experience leaves us nothing of that violence, Soderbergh’s film has given us a candid film; a mirror of America’s culture one that makes you think as your watching the darkness of the scenes how scary— and despite that there is no on screen sex and very little nudity —of how this society is royally fucked.