Sex, Lies, and Videotape

1989

Sex, Lies, and Videotape

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.

96%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 47

79%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 32,555
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Sex, Lies, and Videotape Photos

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 interested in sex and is having an affair with Ann's sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo), whose personality is fire to Ann's ice; sex is the one area in which she's been able to best her more successful sister, and she relishes her ability to seduce Ann's husband. Into this dysfunctional picture comes Graham (James Spader), a college friend of John's whom he hasn't seen in nine years. Graham has decided that talking about sex is more interesting than actually having sex, so he meets women and asks them discuss their desires and fantasies as he tapes them with a camcorder. A sensation at the Sundance Film Festival, the film made that festival a synonym for a new brand of low-budget indie dramas about contemporary life and relationships. Together with Quentin Tarantino's very different Pulp Fiction (1994), sex, lies, and videotape was one of the most influential movies for independent filmmaking of the 1990s. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Cast

James Spader
as Graham Dalton
Andie MacDowell
as Ann Millaney
Peter Gallagher
as John Millaney
Laura San Giacomo
as Cynthia Bishop
Ron Vawter
as Therapist
Alexandra Root
as Girl on Tape
David Foil
as John's Colleague
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Critic Reviews for Sex, Lies, and Videotape

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (9)

Audience Reviews for Sex, Lies, and Videotape

  • May 31, 2016
    An indie with two main topics: relationships and sex. A very well written, well acted, interesting film.
    Peter B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 29, 2016
    I was impressed with James Spader's role. He seems both withdrawn and 'broken' and yet sure of himself enough to convince his female friends to confess their secrets about sex. I enjoyed the film ending as well.
    Red L Super Reviewer
  • Feb 02, 2013
    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 V Super Reviewer
  • Dec 16, 2012
    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 S Super Reviewer

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