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sex, lies, and videotape (1989)


Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 43
Fresh: 42
Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: In his feature directorial debut, Steven Soderbergh demonstrates a mastery of his craft well beyond his years, pulling together an outstanding cast and an intelligent script for a nuanced, mature film about neurosis and human sexuality.

Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 9
Fresh: 9
Rotten: 0

Critics Consensus: In his feature directorial debut, Steven Soderbergh demonstrates a mastery of his craft well beyond his years, pulling together an outstanding cast and an intelligent script for a nuanced, mature film about neurosis and human sexuality.


Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 31,469



Movie Info

Steven Soderbergh kickstarted the independent film movement of the 1990s with this landmark drama about the tangled relationships among four people and a video camera. John (Peter Gallagher) is an unscrupulous, self-centered yuppie lawyer with a beautiful wife named Ann (Andie MacDowell). Ann feels secure and well provided-for in their relationship, but she has almost no interest in sex; she tells her therapist that she's more concerned about waste disposal. John, however, is still quite … More

R (adult situations/language, nudity)
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Steven Soderbergh
In Theaters:
Aug 28, 2001
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


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Critic Reviews for sex, lies, and videotape

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (42) | Rotten (1) | DVD (9)

What amazes is that at just 26, Soderbergh displays the three qualities associated with mature filmmakers: a unique authorial voice, a spooky camera assurance, and the easy control of ensemble acting.

Full Review… | December 9, 2011
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

This is a sexy, nuanced, beautifully controlled examination of how a quartet of people are defined by their erotic impulses and inhibitions.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

The actors are superb; working from Soderbergh's funny, perceptive, immaculately wrought dialogue, they ensure that the film stimulates both intellectually and emotionally.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A film whose enormous authority and intelligence extend to every detail.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

A movie of prodigious power and feeling that is also high-spirited, hilarious and scorchingly erotic.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Inspired chitchat, a barefaced Louisiana gabfest written and directed by Steven Soderbergh, a 26-year-old Wunderkind preoccupied with l'amour.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Soderbergh brings a bracing edge of humor to his probingly analytical drama.

Full Review… | July 26, 2014
The Moving Picture Show

Solid performances and Soderbergh's sense of human nature and cinematic tension are what hold the Sex, Lies, and Videotape together.

Full Review… | February 11, 2012
Movie Metropolis

Beautifully edited by Soderbergh, the film is evenly paced, its subtleties accreting slowly, and by the end it gathers powerful emotional momentum.

Full Review… | December 9, 2011
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Soderbergh has assembled his cast into a fascinating jigsaw of neuroses, which then leap from the screen thanks to his intriguingly intellectual script.

Full Review… | December 9, 2011
Empire Magazine

A mature, beautifully acted and deeply sexy film.

Full Review… | December 9, 2011

a thoughtful and absorbing portrait of unconventional human relationships

Full Review… | November 26, 2009
Q Network Film Desk

A Liaisons Dangereuses for the video age, Soderbergh's impressive debut is a tale of desire, anxiety, and deception, in which the camera of a sexually impotent man becomes the lead player and storytelling device.

Full Review… | September 27, 2006

A bitter yet savory time capsule of discontent.

September 24, 2006

Steven Soderbergh didn't just launch the whole movies-with-all-lowercase-titles craze (as it's commonly written), he also launched the '90s rebirth of independent cinema with this singular effort.

Full Review… | September 18, 2005

Still provocative.

June 19, 2003
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

Being a little shocking shouldn't be enough to earn you critical applause.

March 25, 2003
Hollywood Bitchslap

I was somewhat let down by the film as a whole, which seems to feign more than it actually achieves.

Full Review… | December 23, 2002
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

..not nearly as entertaining as it should be.

December 20, 2002
Tooele Transcript-Bulletin (Utah)

Circles around the ever shifting pattern of contemporary sexual politics, shedding light on both the fears and desires of men and women.

Full Review… | September 1, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for sex, lies, and videotape


Review coming soon to

Alexander Diminiano

Super Reviewer


Sex, Lies, and Videotape is one of the most overrated films of all time. It has been said that both Sex, Lies, and Videotape and Pulp Fiction both pioneered independent film in the 1990s. That's not true, independent cinema with relatively low budgets had been gaining momentum rather successfully worldwide, mainly around Europe but also in America. I can name 100 better independent films made in the early 90's, many having made much more of an impact on contemporary cinema. What Soderbergh and Tarantino did was to make independent films mainstream, thus, loosing what was essentially what made them so good in the first place. Tarantino didn't really hide his influences and went on to improve on many of the ideas he'd seen and loved anyway, he certainly added his own 'Cool' branding to them. Soderbergh went straight to European cinema, ripped it off and claimed it as his own. He's not the first person to have done so, to his credit it's a good bit of ripping but it's still a McDonald's Happy Meal disguised as a Michelin Starred feast. I guess if you're used to eating crap and don't realise it you would know no better. I'm not being a film snob, I'm really not, but after watching many films by Éric Rohmer, Louis Malle, Claude Chabrol - to mention a few, a film like Sex, Lies, and Videotape is just poor imitation and an annoyance when it claims so much dishonestly. It was a pioneer in what I would describe as the 'Mutten dressed as lamb' era.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer

Steven Soderbergh establishes himself as a mature filmmaker despite his young age in his directorial debut. Everything about this independent film is well done with specific regards to the writing and acting. Though frequent with spells of uninteresting plot, 'sex, lies, and videotape' resolves marvelously. It is an emotionally resonant portrait of the middle class, sex, and marriage.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

An extremely well done sensual drama concerning a lonely, sex-shy housewife (Andie MacDowell) who is unaware that her lawyer husband (Peter Gallagher) is having an affair with her sister (Laura San Giacomo). With the arrival of a mysterious stranger (James Spader) that is thrown into their lives, each of the characters, including the stranger, begin to see everything unravel. Steven Soderbergh has made a living off of being one of the most efficient, hard-working directors in the business, and here he sports a film with a lot of indie qualities, but successfully strays from making this a pretentious exercise in sex education. Instead, he gives a lot of trust to his ensemble cast, and it pays off remarkably well, and this freedom allows James Spader to create a creepy character with a bad problem that he needs to address. There are a few loose-ends it does not tie up, including an abrupt ending, but this is mostly excellent film-making, including remarkable editing.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

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