7.2/10
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97 user 57 critic

Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

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 & 20 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

22 September 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sex, Lies...  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,200,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$24,741,700 (USA)
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was written by Steven Soderbergh in eight days on a yellow legal pad during a cross country trip (although, as Soderbergh points out in his DVD commentary track, he had been thinking about the film for a year). See more »

Goofs

When John watches Anne's tape, it doesn't match what we saw when she recorded it. See more »

Quotes

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

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

Connections

Referenced in Sex and Lies in Sin City (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
a terrific, slowly unfolding debut with sublime performances
4 July 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Steven Soderbergh, as observed by other reviewers and critics, did take inspiration from the kinds of films Eric Rohmer's been making for decades. These kinds of films, as Sex, Lies, and Videotape is at its core, about people in morality crises, and how they get out of them or linger with how they act is the point. Some people may not like the film, therefore, as nothing incredibly outrageous or spectacular will occur. For all the attention Soderbergh received (Golden Palm, Independent Spirits, Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, immediate recognition), he's made a small film, and it's not as ambitious as some of his later, greater works like Out of Sight and Traffic. But as a revealing, intimate character study, with an often clever and controlled mis-en-scene, Soderbergh shows his skills were already honed at twenty-six.

Without good acting the film would be like a hopeless rendition of a foreign film, but with the four lead performances from McDowell, Gallagher, Gia Como, and Spader (his is most under-stated of the bunch for me) these are as fully realized characters as Soderbergh could get. They all must've taken something about the characters in the script, because for all the flaws and misconceptions and fears these characters carry, they are human. Even Gallagher's John, who's the conniving husband and lawyer, is recognizably as he is even when he's comparatively lesser than Graham and Ann. Only one side character, the barfly played by Steven Brill, gets the film to immediately halt with uncomfortable humor. But the rest of the film, loaded with innuendo (there's not one shot of nudity, similar to a Rohmer film like Chloe in the Afternoon, where the cover art of the film is rather misleading to those looking for a film with breasts and other parts) and involving drama, doesn't shake its foundations until maybe the last five to ten minutes. And when it does, it does not make the film a lost cause, at least for me. Begs to be seen again, though with maybe a year or so between viewings. A-


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