120 user 72 critic

Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

1:33 | Trailer
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.


Steven Soderbergh
3,633 ( 136)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
James Spader ... Graham
Andie MacDowell ... Ann
Peter Gallagher ... John
Laura San Giacomo ... Cynthia
Ron Vawter ... Therapist
Steven Brill ... Barfly
Alexandra Root Alexandra Root ... Girl on Tape
Earl T. Taylor Earl T. Taylor ... Landlord
David Foil David Foil ... John's Colleague


John and Ann Mullany, a junior partner at a law firm and a housewife respectively, are a young, upwardly mobile couple, who most would deem to have a perfect life. Ann's outward perfection belies the fact that she is in therapy, dealing with the stress over worrying about global issues with which she has little to no control. She does not see certain things with which she does have control being problems in her life, namely her sexual repression or her disinterest in sex as an activity, that is until it manifested itself in this stress which in turn is having, what she believes, a negative impact on her marriage. What she is unaware of is that, long before her stress began, John embarked on an affair with her sister, bartender Cynthia Bishop, who she doesn't admire as being too "loud". John reconnects with a close friend from college named Graham Dalton, who, to John, appears to have lost his way in life in the years that they have not been in touch. Graham, via the method in which he... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Cine independiente USA




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The film was playing in Berlin's largest movie theaters when the Berlin Wall fell. A lot of East Germans crossing over to West Berlin went to see it, expecting Western-style porn. See more »


Ann's necklace disappears when she's in bed with her husband, asking him if he's having an affair. 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 Go Girls: Sex, Lies and Home Renovations (2009) See more »


Written by Mark A. Mangini
Performed by Mark A. Mangini
See more »

User Reviews

Slow And Talky
21 September 2010 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

Throughout, I felt like a fly on the wall at a psychiatrist's private session with a client. One character asks another an intimate question; the second character responds. Then someone asks another question, to which a low-key response is given, and on and on. I don't recall a movie wherein characters ask each other so many nosy, intimate questions. With its voyeuristic theme, this film gets just a tad too personal for my taste.

Four attractive, thirty-something yuppies, two males and two females, with nothing on their minds but sex, ask, probe, inquire, explore, and poke around each others' psyche, spurred on by one of the male characters (James Spader) who likes to videotape sex interviews with women. Fortunately, Spader gives a convincing performance, one that renders the story credible, if the viewer is interested in this sort of thing.

It's a modern story, similar in some ways to "Carnal Knowledge" (1971), but more up-to-date with the video technology. Scenes are filmed mostly in interiors, which gives the story a claustrophobic feel and a sense of intimacy. We get to know the four characters, maybe a little more than I would have liked. All of them are flawed and therefore very human. The Peter Gallagher character is a scoundrel and easy to dislike. The two women are sisters and very unlike, one an uptight introvert, the other a rather salacious extrovert.

The plot is slow, with long camera "takes". The script is talky. Dialogue trends too on-the-nose at times. The camera is rather static and unobtrusive. I didn't like the grainy visuals of the taped interviews.

Low-budget and very low-key, "Sex, Lies, And Videotape" will appeal to viewers who like films wherein characters talk a lot about sex. There's not much "action". But all that erotic talk substitutes for action. Which is really the whole point of the film.

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Release Date:

22 September 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sex, Lies... See more »

Filming Locations:

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA


Box Office


$1,200,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$155,982, 6 August 1989

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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