The Girlfriend Experience

With the noirish Bubble (2005), director Steven Soderbergh initiated what he hopes will be a series of six microbudget features using nonactors, improvisation, and high-definition video, to be released on a variety of platforms. This drama about a high-priced call girl is his second installment, and like the first, it's a modest success that makes one wish Soderbergh could find some happy middle ground between funky experiments and Ocean's Eleven. As a sex worker who makes $2,000 an hour providing "the girlfriend experience"Ă¢€”kissing, cuddling, pretending to listenĂ¢€”porn star Sasha Grey is completely convincing, and so is personal trainer Chris Santos as her boyfriend, an ambitious trainer at a Manhattan health club. Scenes of swank young millionaires pondering the September 2008 financial collapse and street musicians performing for loose change drive home Soderbergh's thesis that life is one big financial transaction, an idea that never progresses from the rhetorical to the dramatic. R, 78 min. Fri 7/31, 8 PM; Sat 8/1, 4:30 PM; Wed 8/5. 8:45 PM; and Thu 8/6, 6 PM.

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