The non-linear narrative of The Girlfriend Experience (similar to the Pulp Fiction format) is confusing at first.
The story centers around an emotionless high-end prostitute called Chelsea (Sasha Grey), her boyfriend, Chris (Chris Santos) and their relationship challenges. Chelsea sells her girlfriend experience to clients by becoming who they need her to be. In voice-over narrations, she describes the designer clothing and accessories she wears on her dates and in what activities she engages in with each client. (The designer bit was distracting, overt in letting us know she's rich and successful. The name-dropping unfavorably reminded me of Brett Easton Ellis's American Psycho.) Chelsea keeps her boundaries in place, thus keeping her relationship with Chris peachy. She screens potential clients that phone her for a date with a few questions. She processes a brief numerology reading that, based on the results, will help her decide whether or not to meet the new client. Problems arise when Chelsea falls for a client; something that hasn't happened.
One particularly contrived subplot: Chelsea meets with a stereotypically shady guy to review her services on his blog/web site. She gives him a free sample romp in exchange for an expected positive review. This supposedly savvy business gal gets bamboozled; the predictability generates an eye-roll.
Grey is famous as a daring and spirited adult film star. Daring and spirited are not adjectives to describe The Girlfriend Experience; boring is more its speed. Grey is stoic, except for one scene where she cries; not enough to eradicate the distance between her character and the viewers. The numerology bit is hokey and her relationship with Chris doesn't feel authentic. In conclusion, The Girlfriend Experience is missing a pulse.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Run time: 78 minutes