GFE: Girlfriend Experience, 2008 / Ileana Pietrobruno

gfe_onesheet_011Interestingly enough, I watched through this entire movie thinking I was seeing Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience. Soderbergh’s film was released an year later, in 2009, and I’ve no idea who borrowed ideas from whom, if at all… but apart from unsuccessfully straining to recognize Sasha Grey (who plays the main part in The Girlfriend Experience), I had no doubt I was watching a Soderbergh film. Pietrobruno’s GFE has the same structural boldness and self-referential elements as Full Frontal, for instance. Made as a fiction-documentary, or better said, documentarised fiction, it centres on the dissolving life of a man obsessed with paid sex. In particular, with an expensive provider of special sex+emotions services, known as girlfriend experience (GFE). Pietrobruno has a background in documentary film editing, which probably explains to some extent the assuredness with which she tackles the unorthodox narrative form. The movie is interspersed with fake “re-enactments” – episodes in which the main character, Daniel, plays himself, while another actress plays the part of Adrian, his GFE love interest. So you get an actress playing the role of another role played by another actress… sounds a bit too complicated, but it’s basically a movie within the movie, and Daniel gets to interrupt and provide corrections to the way the second movie represents events that have happened in the first movie. Hence my confusion with Soderbergh’s style. You get good acting, especially from David Lewis, the guy who plays Daniel, and who owns a very weird tattoo. You get some erotically charged scenes, especially one where a woman plays with her own kitten, literally. You get interesting camerawork, and nicely framed shots where all the important action happens over a tenth of the screen and in the corner. You finally get an action-packed ending sequence that brings on some nice irony, but that cuts off to the credits quite abruptly, and somewhat self-importantly. Anyway, if you too happen to download or rent or buy the “wrong” Girlfriend Experience movie, do not be too quick to get rid of it.

1 Comment

  1. ileana pietrobruno
    March 6, 2010 at 12:42 · Reply

    Hello Ivailo Minov,
    Thank-you so much for reviewing my film. And I’m relieved that you like it! I have posted a link to your review, on my blog:
    Take care,

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The personal website of director Ivaylo Minov

I am a Bulgarian-born filmmaker working between Sofia and London. Over the last six years, I have been directing TV commercials for agencies like DDB, Leo Burnett, Lowe Swing, Publicis, Huts JWT, Demner Merlicek & Bergmann. I have worked for a wide range of clients – from mobile telecoms through charities to a viral campaign for a presidential candidate at the 2011 elections in Bulgaria.

I have a film making diploma from the London Film Academy, following a BA degree in Journalism by the American University in Bulgaria. I have worked in media and theatre, before discovering my passion for film making and turning it into a full-time devotion.

Find me at:
liaminov (at)
0044 7757 428696 (UK)
00359 886 880564 (BG)