Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

June 15, 2009 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2009-06-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

1 O " S 'fi'9t Monday, June 15, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
'Girlfriend' turns more than tricks

Daily Film Editor
There is a scene in the obnoxiously cute-
sy 2005 romantic comedy "Hitch" where
Will Smith's wholesome
"love doctor" character
is approached by a sleazy
client who wants help get- The
ting laid. Smith is offended
by what he sees as a gross Girlfriend
misinterpretation of his Experence
job: He helps establish-
relationships with lasting At the State
connections, he argues, 2929
not meaningless sexual
affairs. In the world of
film, as in the real world of public con-
sciousness, there is a very distinct ethical
and emotional line between these two types
of male-female interactions.
"The Girlfriend Experience" exploits -
and at times silently mocks - this entire
idea. Here is a film that views prostitution
simply as a business, a means to an eco-
nomic end that can exist side-by-side with
an actual, committed relationship. The
main character, Chelsea (real-life porn star
Sasha Grey, whose IMDB credits include
films like "Sasha Grey's Anatomy"), is a suc-
cessful New York escort. Though Chelsea
never explicitly states how she bills herself
to her clients, it's implied that her appeal
to them lies in something more than sex:

They pay her for providing companionship
and inspiring confidence. One takes her to a
movie, then awkwardly tries to discuss the
film with her afterward. Others just want to
talk about their failing jobs and/or failing
So Chelsea's allure must be that she gives
lonely men "the girlfriend experience" for
a price. The fascination of the film is that
her character is also a full-time girlfriend:
She's in a long-term relationship with Chris
(relative newcomer Chris Santos), an ath-
letic trainer. Chris is somehow OK with her
line of work, but when Chelsea decides to go
on a weekend getaway with a married man
she's just met, Chris draws his line between
cheating and business-as-usual.
Why is this? Perhaps it's because she's
going with the intention of looking for
something greater than a hooker-client
relationship. After all, intention becomes
everything when all the other elements of
a relationship can be bought and sold. Per-
haps the emotionally detached Chelsea has
lost the ability to connect with people on a
meaningful level, and perhaps Chris and all
her clients have, too, because they believed
in the healing power of artificial connec-
This all sounds like yet another tale about
a hooker's inner turmoil. But director Ste-
ven Soderbergh ("Che"), using the barely-
there filmmaking style he last showcased in
"Bubble," is interested in something deeper.

"Man, it's really acid out today."
His cast is made up of non-actors, and his
unmoving camera captures their discom-
fort and vulnerability as they stumble over
each other's (mostly improvised) lines.
Soderbergh also overlaps conversations
about the country's eco-

heichinanaiu P R E S E N T S


nomic downturn with
Chelsea's very busi-
nesslike descriptions of
her clientele, and inter-
cuts arguments about
the 2008 presidential
election with Chelsea's
philosophies about
"personology," a pseu-
do-science that she uses
to predict what a client
will be like before she
meets him.
Mon-Fri 9:00-5:00p
Sat 8:30-3:00nm

Yet Soderbergh's intentions tend to vary
from muddled to downright nihilistic. He
may be using the parable of Chelsea and
Chris to purge meaning from all relation-
ships, as he never gives the couple an oppor-
Real-life porn star
goes mainstream.
tunity to be happy in their situation. But
though a grander statement seems to be at
work here, Soderbergh must realize that
the film's hard-to-swallow central conceit
(a lasting relationship built around a girl
who has sex for money) prevents
it from working on its own terms
3ERS as a realistic story. Once this
becomes apparent, all the cinema
verit6 tricks in the world won't
}m But even if "The Girlfriend
Experience" never connects
with its audience on the level
that Soderbergh is hoping for,
it remains a fascinating speci-
men. Even in the very last scene,
the film is challenging the way
we define what constitutes a
relationship and it presents the
audience with different forms
of male-female connection that
transcend (or take the place of)
sex. Hitch might rethink his own
t.CQM philosophy if he was ever to meet
)ME! Chelsea.


Visit michigandaily.com/cfassifieds to see
all of the great houses and apartments
Ann Arbor has to offer on a convenient map!
Also be sure to check out the Classified
Pages for other great properties.

Back to Top

© 2023 Regents of the University of Michigan