Girlfriend Experience (The) (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - United Kingdom - Revolver Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (6th May 2013).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

Acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh ('Ocean's Eleven', 'Sex, Lies and Videotape') invites you into the world of a high class New York call girl in the thrilling and sexy The Girlfriend Experience, starring adult film star Sasha Grey in her mainstream breakthrough.

Chelsea (Grey) is an ultra high-end Manhattan call girl who thinks she has her life totally under control. She runs her own business her own way, makes $2000 an hour, and has a devoted boyfriend who accepts her lifestyle. But when she meets a new client from LA, she discovers that not everything is perfect and that some rules are meant to be broken.

Video

Despite the back of the case incorrectly stating an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, Revolver Entertainment release "The Girlfriend Experience" in the UK in the original aspect ratio of 2.40:1. Whilst the American release from Magnolia received a VC-1 encode, this release uses an AVC-MPEG 4 encode.

The picture quality of this movie is actually very difficult to review. Director Steven Soderbergh is also the cinematographer here (as Peter Andrews) and has opted for a style that both uses a serious amount of overexposure and underexposure, resulting in detail that is sometimes difficult to pinpoint.

It's quite obvious that Soderbergh has used many filters and digital processes during post-production in order to make certain desired effects for the general feel of the movie, but often this results in a general murkiness that goes beyond what may be the desired result. Skintones are quite red and facial close-ups do lack the detail I would expect from a recent film from an experienced director, whether it has a low budget or not. The transfer also appears to have undergone some sharpening and there is some obvious edge enhancement in some scenes.

Despite some of these problems, the real question is whether or not the movie looks like Soderbergh intended it to look, and I believe it does - hence a slightly higher score than I would generally give a blu-ray with such inconsistencies.

Audio

There are two audio options available on this disc:
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo

For my viewing experience, I opted for the 5.1 track, which was suitable if uneventful. The movie is very much dialogue driven so there isn't always a huge need for the use of the surrounds. In fact, there are often moments of prolonged silence from the surrounds during the more enclosed chatty moments. Surrounds are used to good effect for some ambience though, be it the chatter of other bar-goers, general sound effects in the office environment, and the subtle score by Ross Godfrey. Directionality is average and there were no signs of damage by way of dropouts or scratches. It's generally consistent, but a little bland at times.

There are no subtitles included.

Extras

The first item in the extras menu is the Alternative Director's Cut (576p, 72:07=75:07 24fps). I'm not going to lie, I had a look elsewhere and found this cut only features a couple of extended moments and some differing dialogue with the differences not amounting to very much at all. After I found this information, I decided against viewing this version, although it is certainly a welcome addition to the disc for anybody who really enjoyed this movie or is a fan of Steven Soderbergh or Sasha Grey.

Next up is an audio commentary for the theatrical cut with director Steven Soderbergh and actress Sasha Grey. Amusingly, Sasha Grey mentions she has only ever done one commentary before (for the adult movie "Pirates 2"), and Soderbergh states he thinks commentaries should be banned and that he will only record one of he isn't doing it alone. Grey surprised me though, by recommending he listen to John Carpenter commentaries, a director who is well known among film fans for being one of the best commentators around, particularly when teamed with Kurt Russell. Anyway, back to this commentary. Soderbergh and Grey talk about the usual things - filming, sets, cast members, characters etc etc but more interesting is when Soderbergh decides to delve into Grey's thoughts on being in her first serious film (she is an adult actress). There were no dead spots and the commentary was interesting enough to hold my interest throughout.

The final extra is a quick interview with Sasha Gray (576p, 5:22). She does repeat herself a little from the commentary, although that is kind of unavoidable. Grey chats about her character, how she was selected for the role after her interview with LA Magazine, the waiting period between being cast and filming (a year and a half whilst Soderbergh made "Che"), interviewing escorts to prepare herself for her role and being on set.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: B- Audio: B- Extras: C- Overall: C+

 


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