The Girlfriend Experience

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This article is about the film. For the television series, see The Girlfriend Experience (TV series). For the expression, see girlfriend experience.
The Girlfriend Experience
Girlfriend experience.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Produced by Gregory Jacobs
Todd Wagner
Written by Brian Koppelman
David Levien
Starring Sasha Grey
Chris Santos (Actor)
Glenn Kenny
Peter Zizzo
Cinematography Peter Andrews
Edited by Steven Soderbergh
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures
Release date
  • January 20, 2009 (2009-01-20) (Sundance)
  • May 22, 2009 (2009-05-22) (United States)
Running time
77 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,700,000
Box office $1,007,962[1]

The Girlfriend Experience is a 2009 American experimental drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring then-active adult film actress Sasha Grey.[2][3] It was shot in New York City, and a rough cut was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009.[4] The film has also been made available on Amazon Video on Demand as a pre-theatrical rental.[5]

Soderbergh mentioned Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert and Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers as influences. The film is also notable because it was produced for $1.3 million and was shot with a relatively inexpensive Red One camera.[citation needed]


A drama set in the days leading up to the 2008 presidential election, and centered on a high-end Manhattan call girl meeting the challenges of her boyfriend, her clients, and her work.

Chelsea (real name Christine) is a New York City escort who specializes in offering the girlfriend experience. She finds that lately her clients are spending less and less on her services, and are troubled by the financial crisis, a topic they raise frequently in her company. She is also interviewed by a journalist, who quizzes her about her work and personal life. She goes from client to client performing her services.



The film received a 64% on the critical summation site Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus being: "Steven Soderbergh's latest lo-fi production is strikingly crafted but emotionally vague".

Roger Ebert rated the film four out of four stars, saying "This film is true about human nature. It clearly sees needs and desires. It is not universal, but within its particular focus, it is unrelenting."[6]

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Kyle Smith of the New York Post awarded the film 1 star out of 4, saying "Time for another of Steven Soderbergh's 'experimental,' i.e., half-assed, films."[7] David Edelstein of New York Magazine complained that, "Most of the dialogue is listless, and no matter how much Soderbergh snips and stitches, the movie is a corpse with twitching limbs."[8] Luke Davies, critic for The Monthly, wrote that the film is "disposable and pretentious" and "is shot sombrely and austerely, in a style that might be described as 'vacuous chic'" and concluded that "as a film in which a porn star's presence is a fundamental marketing hook, it is masturbation."[9]

Television series[edit]

In June 2014, Starz committed to a 13-episode order for a new television series, based on the film, with Soderbergh and Philip Fleishman as executive producers. Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz co-wrote and directed all 13 episodes. Sasha Grey and her character were not included though the main character uses the same name(s).[10] Riley Keough stars as the new lead described by Soderbergh as "a new character on a new trajectory".[11] While Starz did announce that the program will return for a second season; well-received lead actress from Season 1, Riley Keough, will not return in Season 2 of The Girlfriend Experience.[12]


  1. ^ "The Girlfriend Experience (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 19, 2010. 
  2. ^ Sullivan, David (October 14, 2008). "Sasha Grey Stars in Steven Soderbergh Feature". AVN Media Network. Adult Video News. Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  3. ^ Sullivan, David (October 15, 2008). "Video: Soderbergh Directs Sasha Grey". AVN Media Network. Adult Video News. Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Girlfriend Experience Sundance Review". January 23, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Girlfriend Experience". Amazon Video On Demand. Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 20, 2009). "The Girlfriend Experience". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  7. ^ Smith, Kyle (May 22, 2009). "Phony Documentary Doesn't Do The Trick". New York Post. NYP Holdings Inc. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Steven Soderbergh and Sasha Grey: 'The Girlfriend Experience'". The Week. May 22, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Amoral Tale: Luke Davies on Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience"". The Monthly. Schwartz Publishing. September 2009. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Starz Orders 'Girlfriend Experience' Series from Steven Soderbergh, Philip Fleishman", Variety, June 23, 2014.
  11. ^ "‘Magic Mike’ Star Riley Keough Joins ‘The Girlfriend Experience’ TV Series", /Film, September 23, 2014.
  12. ^

External links[edit]