Adult Film star Sasha Grey’s her first mainstream movie, The Girlfriend Experience, was released Oct. 1 on DVD.
Grey's performance has been widely praised, and is apt to open the Hollywood or Indie Film door to other adult-film stars who have more than mere physical attributes.
The film, directed by award-winner Steven Soderbergh, tries to answer a basic question: Why do men pay for sex?
But, the film takes a different approach in telling the tale, focusing on Grey’s character, a call girl who may have given up more than she’s gained.
Grey portrays Chelsea, a $2,000-an-hour Manhattan call girl, who offers more than mere sex to her clients; it's her companionship and conversation that provides her customers with, “the complete girlfriend experience.”
Chelsea thinks she has her life totally under control, but when you're in the business of meeting people, control can be easily manipulated.
Shot in an artistic cinema verité style, Soderbergh has credited Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert and Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers as influences. The film is also notable because it was produced for a mere $1.3 million (almost free by Hollywood standards) and was shot with a relatively inexpensive RedOne camera.
The drama is set in the days leading up to the 2008 Presidential election, and depicts five days in Chelsea’s life. As an ultra high-end call girl, she believes her future is secure because she runs her own business her way, and even has a devoted boyfriend who accepts her lifestyle.
At first, it appears that she has achieved her success as an upscale escort without any loss of dignity, but then it becomes apparent that she has lost something even more valuable: her ability to feel anything deeply – either in her work guise, or her personal life.
In an uncomplicated way, the film makes a provocative point about the more subtle price of achieving great success in any business, and its true cost.
Soderbergh first learned about Grey when he read about her in a feature appearing in Los Angeles Magazine.
While some film critics panned the film, noted critic Roger Ebert rated the film Four out of Four Stars, the highest rating, 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."
In a glowing review, Chazz Lyons, film critic from Gone Cinema Poaching, also awarded the film the highest rating, saying, "For my money, Soderbergh’s stylish, structurally innovative, and visually stunning 19th movie is, bar none, the best film of 2009 thus far, and the year’s first masterpiece."