Steven Soderbergh’s latest feature distribution experiment The Girlfriend Experience has taken the non-traditional route of festival to video-on-demand to theaters. From my perspective, the buzz has all been around the distribution plan and the fact that the film features adult film star Sasha Grey in its lead role (check out her extensive and hilarious list of credits). I was a bit surprised to discover the film is actually quite excellent and has quickly joined my short list for best films of the year. Sasha does a very good job in the role of upscale call girl Chelsea, though the real credit quite obviously goes to the director. Soderbergh has crafted an emotionally honest character whose subtle insecurities paint a dynamic portrait. I was a big fan of the film’s unique style, which I would stop short of calling verite – yet employed a mixture of traditional and voyeuristic methods. There are a number of reasons that this style felt different (a big one is likely that it was shot on the RED camera which looks digital… yet beautifully digital), but what is most important is that all of the decisions WORK and actually add to the narrative instead of distracting from it. The same can be said for the choices made in mixing up the chronology in such a way that had me discovering elements of the plot until the very end. The film feels very relevant – like a snapshot of the times in the sense of topic (a lot about the economy, politics, etc.), but also definitely in its look and style. It will certainly be interesting to rewatch this film in ten years. Getting cohesive success from so many elements is quite a feat. Soderbergh should be commended – take a rich and dynamic character and put her in a simple yet topical story and then really nail a unique and appropriate style – and you end up with a great film.