Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989) ****



It took me some time to get my hands on this on but it was all worth it. A groundbreaking movie by Steven Soderbergh, it shows you what a fantastic script and tight direction can do for a movie.


This is a story about sex and lies, and how a man shook this world with his videotapes.  Ann (Andie MacDowell) is a sexually repressed woman who in a strange way associates sex with her sister, and thus look at it disapprovingly. She is not comfortable in her own body and her own sexuality. Her husband, John (Peter Gallagher) who is having an affair with her sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo) is a selfish, chauvinistic man who at times looks like had married Ann to keep as a beautiful trophy wife. And then there is Graham (James Spader) who is impotent because of physiological issues and makes video tapes of women talking about sex as a way of getting turned on. The one thing about him is that he is quite honest about everything including his little project when Ann accidently stumbles on to them.

The story is simple and yet complicated. And the wonderful thing about the script is that all the four characters are far from perfect. Each one has his or her own problems and major ones at that. Ann doesn’t want to have sex. Her husband uses that as an excuse to sleep with her sister, a free spirited female who it seems lived in the shadow of her sister’s beauty all her life. And all of it would have remained the same but everything changes when Graham comes in one afternoon. Ann is strangely attracted to him and openly talks about her problems which she doesn’t even with her own husband. The situation becomes complicated when Cynthia gets involved too and Ann finds out about the affair.

The movie is almost perfect and almost theatrical in its approach. It tells a very complicated story in a simple manner and its amazing to see things unfold in front of your eyes. The name of the movie couldn’t be more perfect. It’s all about sex, lies about sex and the videotapes that unravels everything. James Spader is perfect as Graham. He is lost and open, and totally consumed by his own problem which has forced him to lead this nomadic life. Andie MacDowell is everything that Ann is. You look at her and though you don’t always sympathise with her due to her own outlook towards sex, it’s the mutual healing process and how it comes about that makes this piece so interesting.

Watch this. It will move you.

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