The Girlfriend Experience

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The Girlfriend Experience
Girlfriend experience.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteven Soderbergh
Written byBrian Koppelman
David Levien
Produced byGregory Jacobs
Todd Wagner
StarringSasha Grey
Chris Santos
Glenn Kenny
Peter Zizzo
CinematographySteven Soderbergh
(as Peter Andrews)
Edited bySteven Soderbergh
Music byRoss Godfrey
Distributed byMagnolia Pictures
Release dates
  • January 20, 2009 (2009-01-20) (Sundance)
  • May 22, 2009 (2009-05-22) (United States)
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.7 million
Box office$1 million[1]

The Girlfriend Experience is a 2009 American slice of life[2] drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring ex-pornographic actress Sasha Grey.[3][4] It was shot in New York City, and a rough cut was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009.[5] The film was also made available on Amazon Video on Demand as a pre-theatrical rental.[6]

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]


In the days leading up to the 2008 presidential election, a high-end Manhattan escort meets the challenges of her boyfriend, her clients, and her work. Chelsea (real name Christine) specializes in offering girlfriend experiences. 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.



As of June 2020, the film has a 67% approval rating on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes based on 139 reviews with an average rating of 6.39/10. The website's critics consensus states: "Steven Soderbergh's latest lo-fi production is strikingly crafted but emotionally vague".[7]

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."[8]

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."[9] 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."[10] 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."[11]

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).[12] Riley Keough stars as the new lead, described by Soderbergh as "a new character on a new trajectory".[13] Well-received lead actress from Season 1, Riley Keough, did not return in Season 2 of The Girlfriend Experience.[14] Instead the show featured two new stories focusing on two different sets of characters. [15] Season 3 of The Girlfriend Experience was announced in July by Starz. Season 3 will be Executive Produced by Philip Fleishman and Steven Soderbergh and will feature Julia Goldani Telles in the lead.[16]


  1. ^ "The Girlfriend Experience (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  2. ^ "The Girlfriend Experience (2009)". All Movie. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  3. ^ Sullivan, David (October 14, 2008). "Sasha Grey Stars in Steven Soderbergh Feature". AVN Media Network. Adult Video News. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  4. ^ Sullivan, David (October 15, 2008). "Video: Soderbergh Directs Sasha Grey". AVN Media Network. Adult Video News. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  5. ^ "The Girlfriend Experience Sundance Review". January 23, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  6. ^ "The Girlfriend Experience". Amazon Video On Demand. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  7. ^ "The Girlfriend Experience (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 20, 2009). "The Girlfriend Experience". Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago, Illinois: Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  9. ^ Smith, Kyle (May 22, 2009). "Phony Documentary Doesn't Do The Trick". New York Post. NYP Holdings Inc. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  10. ^ "Steven Soderbergh and Sasha Grey: 'The Girlfriend Experience'". The Week. May 22, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  11. ^ Davies, Luke (September 2009). "Amoral Tale: Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience"". The Monthly. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Schwartz Publishing. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  12. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (June 23, 2014). "Starz Orders 'Girlfriend Experience' Series from Steven Soderbergh, Philip Fleishman". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation.
  13. ^ Han, Angie (September 23, 2014). "'Magic Mike' Star Riley Keough Joins 'The Girlfriend Experience' TV Series". /Film.
  14. ^ "".
  15. ^ Gilbert, Sophie (April 2016). "The Girlfriend Experience: Love in a Cold Climate". The Atlantic. Washington DC: Emerson Collective.
  16. ^ "'The Girlfriend Experience' Renewed for Season 3 by Starz – TCA". July 26, 2019.

External links[edit]