Chelsea is very beautiful. And elegant, refined, sophisticated, well-mannered, kind, self-confident… Chelsea is whatever you want her to be, for a price. Because Chelsea is a escort: a high-dollar prostitute. But what she offers is special: a ‘girlfriend experience’. For 2.000 dollars per hour, she’s the perfect girlfriend: she goes out with her clients, to the cinema, to a museum, to have dinner, she talks with them, listen to them, give advices… Sex is permited, but it’s not obligatory. After all, Chelsea’s clients only look for the illusion that they’re not alone.
Chelsea’s real name is Christine. She also have a boyfriend. But it is unsure if she’s in love with him. Probably, she only seeks the same illusion that she brings to her clients: the illusion of stability, the illusion that she’s not alone.
Because everybody is alone in this movie.
The girlfriend experience (2009) is an experimental drama directed by Steven Soderbergh, with a 1.3 million dollar budget, filmed entirely digital and the protagonist, Sasha Gray, being the only professional of the cast.
With this minimalistic story, Soderbergh invites us to think about the deep solitude of the people, their wishes and needs. Also about hypocrisy, money and what can be bought, because, if the illusion of affection can be bought, then, what’s left that couldn’t be? And more: in such a false relationship, if one of the participants believes it to be true, is it still false?
In its form, it’s absorbing in its contemporary aesthetic mixed with the French New Wave. The story builds up on disorganized fragments and unconnected conversations: a puzzle of long, out of focus shots, sometimes totally irrelevant, passed by cold blue light filters. The spaces, the dialogues (probably improvised) and the totally ambiental underscore music are reduced to the minimum. Everything contributes to create a distance, to build an emotional barrier between Christine and the spectator, the same barrier that exists between Chelsea and her clients.
In its coldness, its minimalism, its experimental aesthetics and its argumental hardness, The girlfriend experience is not for everyone. Only for selected clients.