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
Why does Graham prefer iced tea so much? He offers it to Ann when she visits him for the first time at his apartment. Does the same when Cynthia pays him a visit. When he and Ann are having their first real conversation in the restaurant there's a glass of iced tea next to him, while Ann has a glass of white wine. Besides being a probable leitmotif, it's something that, seems to me is a part of Graham's character. He comes to live in that town to get away, to find a closure to his past. He ends up providing closure to the lives of these three characters. Let's imagine a scenario sans Graham - a phase in the life of a woman whose husband is having an extra-marital affair with her sister. She's suspicious but he denies. She finds evidence to prove that he's having an affair with her sister and decides she's had it, she's leaving her husband. Do you think this might have been the conclusion of this scenario? I think not. As Ann rightly says to Graham, that she would have left her husband anyway, but the reason she's doing it now, is because of him. She thinks sex is overrated, her sister seems to believe in the opposite and here comes a man whose profession, for all practical purposes is having women talk about sex. Ann's therapist is a foil to Graham. While he dispenses his advice and listens patiently to Ann, Graham is the all important catalyst that helps her make a practical decision in her life. He also aids in her real sexual awakening. Before Graham, sex, for Ann was incidental. Now it takes on a different perspective.
One might say that in making women talk so intimately to him about sex, he sort of breaks the ice on a topic that is more or less socially tabooed. His is a presence that evokes trust in the most introverted of women, making them confide in him and by doing so have an almost cathartic experience. I think the iced tea motif of Graham's character fits in here. Beyond his trademark black-shirt, blue denim attire, it is the only other element related to him that is conspicuously stated. That's my conjecture anyway!
Needless to say, James Spader is superb as Graham. He manages to evoke many of the nuances of Graham's character by subtle, volatile facial expressions. Andie McDowell is also great as Ann. Hers is a really sensitive and touching performance. Peter Gallagher and Laura San Giacomo are both equally good. The music for this film is appropriately minimal and poignant. Great effort by Soderbergh, who I'm glad to hear has come back to his experimental film roots with his recent film 'Full Frontal'.
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