Flutterby™! : The Girlfriend Experience, redux

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The Girlfriend Experience, redux

2009-06-19 14:43:43.551756+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

I've been letting this one settle for a few days, trying to figure out how to have more conversations about The Girlfriend Experience[Wiki]. I really like the thinking it's gotten me doing, but as I've been poking around trying to find more reviews and essays on the film I've run across two things: Reviewers who didn't get it, who think that the economic talk and investment suggestions given by the clients to Chelsea is background noise, rather than strong metaphor about the sort of relationship their having with her (these are also the reviewers who pan Sasha Grey's performance as "flat", apparently expecting some sort of Tom Cruise-like scenery chewing), and reviewers who, like me, fumble around how they liked it, but not finding the words to expand on that.

So, a few notes. Several interviews with Soderbergh or Grey I've read say that the screenplay, or at least the parts that Soderbergh let the actors see, was only 15 pages long, that for the most part Soderbergh knew what he wanted from the scene, knew the high points, gave the actors goals for the scene and let them loose. This Screen Crave interview with Sasha Grey has some insight into that, and Glen Kenny, real life movie critic who played the proprietor of an online escort rating service, has some amusing notes on shooting his two scenes. I think this is what gives the movie so much power: Much like real life, we know what we want out of a transaction, but we largely only have glimpses into the motivations that drive us to those goals.

I can obviously buy into the notion that all relationships are transactional, that we get things from the relationship and put things into the relationship, that some of us are willing to extend more or less credit in that economy, but that there is a market and a transaction there, and when the balance gets too far out of whack, we walk. No surprises there.

What makes the film interesting is that more so than most, the relationship market isn't frictionless. Trying to avoid spoilers here on the front page, the scene where Chris tells Chelsea how he expects the weekend will end up is remarkable not for its prediction, but because if he truly believed his prediciton and were willing to extend the credit, he could offer a different set of possibilities.

And as participants in a market there are a number of ways that we can meet the prospect of competition. Chelsea's reaction to finding that she is indeed in a commodity market, even as other scenes have shown us that she knows this intellectually and is trying to build her way out of it, is very well done.

I'm not going to "out" anyone here, but in a private email exchange it has been suggested that we lack the tools to communicate about some of the issues raised by the film. I'll concede that point, but I want to live in, or build, a culture where we don't.

I also find it interesting that in The Limey[Wiki] I found the editing style very challenging. Now the non-linearity of the storytelling has become part of the language of film.

And I want to see the film again.

By the way, Sasha Grey has a YouTube channel

[ related topics: Psychology, Psychiatry and Personality Movies Sociology Economics ]

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#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-19 14:53:04.034326+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Oh, I also think its noting that there are a few characters in the movie who aren't engaging in traditional transactional relationships: Freedom Tickler (MySpace page) and Shakerleg (YouTube channel) are both putting what they have out there and seeing what comes back, without the intent audience that the other characters in the film are playing for.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-19 14:59:52.529167+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oh, and now we're getting into spoiler territory, but when she gets the package at home that could be either a statement of affection or an acknowledgement that the fantasy that she shares with the client can't extend into his real life...