Sex, Lies, And Videotape

1989, Movie, R, 101 mins


Like its title, SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE sneaks by quietly, in subtle increments, gradually accumulating force. Graham Dalton (James Spader) arrives at the upscale home of his old college friend John Millaney (Peter Gallagher) and the friend's wife, Ann (Andie MacDowell). The two men have little in common any more: Graham is jobless and alienated; John is an aggressive yuppie attorney. He is also having an affair with his wife's sister, Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo), who's a trouble-maker. Graham and Ann become friendly, and he reveals that he is impotent. They have a falling out over his collection of videotapes, which contain conversations with women who've consented to speak intimately about sex before his camera. Then Cynthia pays him a visit and makes a tape, precipitating a series of emotional revelations. An unusually mature and self-assured fiction-feature debut for director Steven Soderbergh, SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE was the winner of the Cannes Film Festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, scoring a rare double win when Spader was named Best Actor as well. Notwithstanding the fervency of its reception, this is a quiet film, relying on talk rather than scenes of sex or nudity to make its points, and in the process establishing a far more intimate tone than many more explicit pictures. Soderbergh coaxes remarkably well-nuanced performances from the four principals. Beautifully edited by Soderbergh, the film is evenly paced, its subtleties accreting slowly, and by the end it gathers powerful emotional momentum. leave a comment

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Sex, Lies, And Videotape
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