Friday, February 26, 2010

Pose Reviews a Movie. #4: The Girlfriend Experience (Soderbergh, 2009)

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from this one, but it definitely didn’t deliver it.

Or anything, really.

Like, at all.

Steven Soderbergh’s emotionless and fragmented Girlfriend Experience provides a potential framework for a story that might have been good, had it been presented with people who can act, and taken more time to investigate its (too) many plot dimensions.

The main trouble with this recent effort of Soderbergh’s is that there just isn’t a single likeable character. The protagonist is a high-class escort by the name of Chelsea, whose style of prostitution incorporates an interpersonal connection as opposed to straight-up sex (hence, The Girlfriend Experience). And her long-term boyfriend, Chris, is a personal trainer who continuously whines about money when he isn’t whining about his relationship.

Neither character is appealing enough to make the audience to care about their story, and neither actor can make their character three-dimensional enough to change that. As "actors," they both lack the ability to exhibit basic human emotion, which I suppose could be interpreted as an artistic choice exhibiting the removal of “true emotion” from the “life of a sex trade worker,” but which could also be interpreted as the removal of “talent” from the “movie.”

And although the plot throws a couple of cool emotional curveballs, the characters just aren’t backed well enough by their actors to react fittingly. I enjoyed the concept of the film’s events, but their execution was disappointing and dull.

So what can I say that’s positive? Well, it’s only 78 minutes. And as luck would have it, there are no awkward sex scenes. And of course, it’s well-shot, since Soderbergh employs the same gifted use of light filters and quality cinematography that inhabits some of his less awful films like Traffic and the Che epic. But just because Soderbergh knows how to shoot a movie doesn’t mean he can save one. And he sure didn’t.

Sorry Steven. I still love you, and I'll still watch ANYTHING you make. But I’m afraid your Girlfriend Experience just...isn’t worth experiencing.

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