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Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

R  |   |  Drama  |  22 September 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 35,797 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 91 user | 56 critic | 17 from Metacritic.com

A sexually repressed woman's husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything.


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Ron Vawter ...
Alexandra Root ...
Earl T. Taylor ...
David Foil ...
John's Colleague


Ann is married to John, who is having an affair with her sister Cynthia. Ann's a quiet type and unwilling to let herself go. When John's old friend, Graham, shows up, all their lives change. Graham likes to videotape interviews with women. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 September 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sex, Lies...  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$1,200,000 (estimated)


$24,741,700 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The role of Ann was originally written for Elizabeth McGovern, and was later offered to Brooke Shields, who turned it down. In 1989, at the Sundance Festival premiere, Steven Soderbergh told the audience that he'd originally thought Andie MacDowell was too weak an actress to even audition, because of her work in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984). See more »


The view from John's office window is different at the end of the film See more »


[first lines]
Ann: Garbage. All I've been thinking about all week is garbage. I mean, I just can't stop thinking about it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

This film is dedicated to Ann Dollard 1956-1988 See more »


Referenced in The Middle: Friends, Lies, and Videotape (2011) See more »


Written by Mark A. Mangini
Performed by Mark A. Mangini
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User Reviews

Spader is amazing!
8 November 2001 | by (Nether Realm) – See all my reviews

Spader's character was the reason I enjoyed the film so much. I could identify with him and his dilemma. It seemed he felt like a stranger in an even stranger land. Who were these humans that seem so happy in the same world he could not find happiness within? What is this life we live? More importantly, what is the point? Why bother? His great battle with existence was a philosophical one. He, like myself, felt infinite sadness over the knowledge that are no concrete answers...

The movie is also interesting because it attacks the main sexual organ, the mind. Graham while trying to distance himself from the human experience by capturing sex confessionals on videotape, perhaps unwittingly became more intimate with his "partners." Roger Ebert points out that the films' argument is that conversation is better than sex.

Personally, I think the movie is about trying to find happiness with another person. Some Modest Mouse song lyrics come to mind. "And it's hard to be a human being/ And it's harder as anything else/ and I'm lonesome when you're around/ I'm never lonesome when I'm by myself" Graham finds it hard to be a human being and live in this human world full of values that he finds strange, confusing, and most importantly unfulfilling. What do you do when your ideology and needs don't mesh in the society you live within? How does one deal with feelings of loneliness in a society that spurns him? This movie is about one man's way.

James Spader does such an excellent job as this character. In fact, great acting all around by the entire cast and excellent writing and directing by Mr. Soderbergh. Go see this movie now!

37 of 52 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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