Synopsis: "Girlfriend" details five days in the life of an ultra high-end Manhattan call girl who thinks she has her life totally under control. She feels her future is secure because she runs her own business her own way, makes $2000 an hour, and has a devoted boyfriend who accepts her lifestyle. But when you're in the business of meeting people, you never know who youre going to meet.
Round-up: Following a sneak peak earlier this year at Sundance (after which critic Eric Kohn, writing for indieWIRE, noted that it was a "a clever relationship drama" and "nuanced character study" that "broadens the mini... malist approach that the director first applied in 'Bubble'"), Soderbergh's latest opens this week to mostly positive press. "'The Girlfriend Experience' is one of Steven Soderbergh's bite-size, semi-improvised, shot-on-DV doodles (like 'Bubble' or 'Full Frontal'), and it's the best one he's made" raves Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman who calls the film "a mysterious and arresting look at how the culture of money turns love and desire into something you want to control." While not all critics are as enthusiastic about Soderbergh's experiment, most all agree he's up to something interesting. Though The New York Times' A.O. Scott writes that it is at times "tryingly obvious and irritatingly oblique" he concedes that "when the turmoil of the last 12 months has receded and the 10th-anniversary deluxe collectors edition comes around, this strange, numb cinematic experience may seem fresh, shocking and poignant rather than merely and depressingly true" and compares the film to Godard's late 60s work. Several critics have commented upon Soderbergh's provocative choice to cast porn star Sasha Grey in the lead role, as well. "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" notes the Village Voice's J. Hoberman while Mick LaSalle, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, contends that "The smartest thing director Steven Soderbergh did in the making of 'The Girlfriend Experience' was to cast Sasha Grey. For the role of a high-priced call girl, he went out and found a porn star, and the difference between Grey's essence - that porn star essence - and the milder essence he might have found in a pretty Hollywood starlet is the source of the movie's impact." One of the most wholly negative reviews of the film comes care of New York Magazine's David Edelstein who laments that "Most of the dialogue is listless, and no matter how much Soderbergh snips and stitches, the movie is a corpse with twitching limbs." The consensus, however, is that this is an intriguing—if not, perhaps, resoundingly successful—experiment from the ever-restless Soderbergh.