1st Reviews in for 'Girlfriend Experience'

Tod Hunter
NEW YORK — Mainstream director Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience," a 77-minute film shot on HD and starring adult performer Sasha Grey, has received its first reviews in the mainstream press.

Calling the film "provocative yet shallow" in the Hollywood Reporter, reviewer Kirk Honeycutt references the film's nonlinear narrative, saying "The effect is impressionistic and provocative, with the emphasis falling differently on scenes because of our knowledge or lack thereof. It also serves to frame the 'girlfriend experience' as a kind of performance art."

Reviewer Ronnie Scheib in Variety called Grey's performance "interestingly opaque" and says "Despite the pic's erotic subject matter and star (vet porn diva Sasha Grey), nothing could be less sensationalistic — or moralistic — than this fascinating study of free enterprise in free fall. While it may disappoint thrill-seekers, "Girlfriend" should still delight Soderbergh fans and niche auds. This arthouse gem finds the helmer in top, and truly topical, form."

Christopher Goodwin in the Times of London says little about the film, preferring to delve deeply into Grey's adult work, calling her "one of the most notorious porn stars in the world" and pointing out that "Soderbergh clearly enjoys toying with the tension of our expectations, but there is an even more interesting subtextual tension in the choice of a top porn actress to star in an art-house movie directed by an Oscar-winner. It begs important questions. Pornography may now be pervasive, but how acceptable is it in mainstream culture today, how acceptable should it be, and how do we really feel about those who perform in it?"

In the Village Voice, J. Hoberman observes that with its nonlinear storytelling and tight close-ups, like other Soderbergh films, "'The Girlfriend Experience' is a film about its own making. It’s also a hall of mirrors. Are we watching an authentic sacred monster playing the part of a cute little chippie — or is it vice versa? Grey isn’t the first porn actress to go straight, but she may be the first to allegorize her own situation — projecting an on-screen self-confidence that’s indistinguishable from pathos."

"The Girlfriend Experience" is a Magnolia Pictures release and presentation, in association with 2929 Entertainment, of an Extension 765 production. It will be shown tonight and Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. It will be available on the On Demand video-on-demand cable TV service starting tomorrow and will open in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on May 22.