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Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

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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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2,184 ( 398)
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 ...
...
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 »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

22 September 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sex, Lies...  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$1,200,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$24,741,700 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

On the first day of production, the producers sent Steven Soderbergh a telegram, joking that they'd heard reports that he couldn't direct traffic. Twelve years later, Soderbergh won an Oscar for directing Traffic (2000). See more »

Goofs

When Anne comes to Graham's apartment to make the tape, she rests on the side of a doorway with her hand in her back pocket. In the next shot, her hand is in her front pocket. 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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in National Geographic Explorer: Sex, Lies, & Gender (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
A MAGNIFICENT, UNDERRATED FILM THAT'S LIKE NOTHING I'VE EVER SEEN!!!
17 July 2001 | by (Jersey City, NJ) – See all my reviews

"sex, lies and videotape" is a low-key drama that REALLY showcases Stephen Soderbergh's true talents. The film was made on a modest budget and is mainly dialogue-driven, yet I was deeply fascinated from start to finish. This is another film that sends out a message to all aspiring directors: You don't need a large budget to make a truly great motion picture! Soderbergh hasn't received worldwide fame until recently with the hit "Traffic." As much as I loved "Traffic" I urge everyone--who's curious of Soderbergh's work--go check out this initial effort.

The element that impressed me the most was the succint, yet brutally realistic dialogue. I've never been more impressed with a film's dialogue and actually screamed out, "Now THAT'S how people talk!" The interactions between each character are so intense and down to earth, and gets the audience deeply engaged. James Spader shines in this career-making performance as a documentary filmmaker who gets his rocks off filming women talking about sex. We never know why he developed this unusual interest, but that's what's so great. And the way Spader carries his character is so subtle and powerful. His character is quiet and mysterious, and he expresses this enigmatic role perfectly with every silence, every facial gesture, every tone of voice. That's another element that I loved. Soderbergh expresses to his audience that people don't always mean what they say. And you can tell by every hint of body language. During these character interplays, you get a feel for what the characters are really thinking with their every subtle nuance. And that's what creates most of the film's tension.

And of course, the film has great depth and treats its subject with the greatest of maturity. In one scene, Spader interviews this young woman who talks about her first experience with masturbation. That could've easily been transformed into something gratuitous and heavy-handed. The subjects of sex and infidelity are treated with a sense of reality, and I'm sure many couples who are involved in relationships where one of the mates are cheating will find the whole situation with Andie McDowell and Peter Gallagher haunting. Everything is low-key and some might find the rhythm slow-moving, but that's what I liked about it. It slowly unfolds and takes its time developing the characters and their situations. Many filmmakers would've taken the subject of infidelity and made it into a melodramatic soap. But Soderbergh is very patient. He never once thinks, "Maybe the audience is not interested anymore," and speeds things up. He goes at his own pace, and works with it consistently.

I don't know if others will get the same effect I did out of this movie, but appreciate a film that respects its characters and respects its dialogue. Sure, I also appreciate a film with massive entertainment value, but other times I'd rather watch something with depth and realism. This is one of those films that just has a subtle energy. Looking at "sex, lies and videotape" from the outside, it's hard to explain the power of Soderbergh's masterpiece. All I say is go see for yourself! I hope you'll be just as astounded.

My score: 10 (out of 10)


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