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
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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