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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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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Alexandra Root ...
Girl on Tape
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)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


When Graham is interviewing Ann, Ann sets the camera down on the arm of the chair pointing at the window away from the couch. When Graham gets up to turn it off, it is pointing at the couch. 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 Who's the Boss?: Sex, Lies and Exercise Tape (1989) See more »


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

The same as you learned in Sunday School, only the exemplars are different
25 July 2003 | by See all my reviews

Sex, Lies and Videotape will probably strike the average viewer as irredeemably degenerate, maybe even perverted, since voyeurism is still considered aberrant behavior. But as far as this film is concerned, that's the appearance, not the reality. Whereas the drama revolves to a certain extent around the voyeuristic masturbation of an impotent man, the heart and soul of the film is an unrelenting, hard driving psychological siege on the biggest erogenous zone of all: the brain.

This film is about sex. But it's not about the frothy swapping of fluids and feelings. It's about honesty, without which one can't have intimacy, which is to sexual stimulation what the water valve is to the hydrant. From beginning to end, we see this theme brought into focus by the dramatic contrast between two different relationships – the one based on lies and deceit, the other based upon honesty. And guess which one wins out in the long run?

In a sense, it's what your mother and Sunday school teacher taught you all along. But what makes this movie way more interesting than your mother or Sunday school teacher is the level of honesty it suggests is necessary as the basis of a healthy relationship. Ann (Andy McDowell), for example, an acceptably moral person tells the voyeuristic masturbator `You got a problem.' He replies by adding that he has a lot of problems. But, he says, `They belong to me.'

Somehow, the openness about one's problems renders their bile and poison ineffective. `Lilies that fester,' said Shakespeare, `smell far worse than weeds.'

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