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The Girlfriend Experience

Stylish, inventive, and cool • Muenzinger Auditorium

The Girlfriend Experience

Stylish, inventive and cool, Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience" is a Godardian inquiry into the ways in which sex and money function as transactional media at a time of diminishing economic prospects.

Shot on the ultra-cheap with mostly non-pro actors, it has a convincing air of intimacy. But the affectless lead actress and a manipulative script undermine some of the fine, fascinating work Soderbergh conjures.

Porn star Sasha Gray plays Christine, a high-priced call girl with a live-in boyfriend (Chris Santos) and aspirations to make something really big of herself. She seems to be moving according to plan when the economy tanks in the fall of '08.

That systemic shock, a quarrel with her sweetie, encounters with a journalist, a nasty erotic Web site commentator and a new, empathetic client combine to make her change her plans -- but her new scheme isn't entirely sound.

For this type of material, Gray isn't much of an actress -- her dim affect is cool, yes, but also excessively thin. And despite the improvised, fly-on-the-wall quality of the film, several deliberate screenplay choices give the story something of a moralistic quality. Soderbergh's experiments are gripping -- the photography, music, wobbly chronology and so on -- but the movie is more of a curiosity than anything else.

— S. Levy, The Oregonian

The Girlfriend Experience

Fri September 11, 2009, 7:00 & 9:00, Muenzinger Auditorium

USA, 2009, English, Color, 78 min, Rated R, Widescreen, 2.35:1, 35mm

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