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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.

Director:

Steven Soderbergh
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Popularity
2,870 ( 628)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 September 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sex, Lies... See more »

Filming Locations:

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,200,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$155,982, 6 August 1989

Gross USA:

$24,741,667

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$24,741,667
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

When Ann asks John if he is having an affair, Ann says "alright, alright you've made your point," but her lips move out of sync. 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 The Elite Daily Show: Mistakes, Lies and Videotape (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
A MAGNIFICENT, UNDERRATED FILM THAT'S LIKE NOTHING I'VE EVER SEEN!!!
17 July 2001 | by mattymatt4everSee 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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