Movie Review: Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

Between this and “Sexy Beast”, I seem to be finding myself reviewing a bunch of movies with at-first-glance strange titles that implies something… not very family-friendly (avert thine eyes and minds, nuns and children). But I promise, there’s an actual movie here.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”.

Ann (Andie MacDowell) and John (Peter Gallagher) live a quiet and seemingly decent life. However, due to Ann’s disinterest in sex, John has resorted to cheating on Ann with her sister (Laura San Giacomo), which has become an unfortunate status quo. But one day when John’s old friend Graham (James Spader) shows up in town, things start to change. “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” deals with sexuality (well, duh), both active and repressed, and how that affects the relationships between the characters. And I must say, I thought it was very well handled here. It’s a slowly burning, mature, and nuanced take on those themes that mesmerizes from start to end thanks to the strong writing (and a few other elements, which we’ll get to later, but I digress).

The characters in this are flawed, unique, and overall quite fascinating. Andie MacDowell plays Ann, a sexually repressed, slightly neurotic woman. She is a pretty layered character unlike any I’ve followed before, and MacDowell was great in the role. Peter Gallagher is really good as the charismatic, yet slimy John. Laura San Giacomo was great as Ann’s sister, Cynthia. And then we have James Spader as the somewhat mysterious Graham. I won’t go too deep on him, because I think some of his quirks and such are better left experienced rather than told. But I can say that he’s quite fascinating, and Spader is great in the role.

The score for the movie was composed by Cliff Martinez, and it was great. Generally it wasn’t very melodic, going for a more atmospheric, droning sound. But it worked fantastically within the movie, adding another layer of emotion to proceedings, making for a much more engrossing experience.

“Sex, Lies, and Videotape” was the feature film debut of American filmmaker Steven Soderbergh. He both wrote and directed the movie, and I think he did a phenomenal job. And I’m not just saying this in comparison to other debuts, but also as a comparison to filmmakers with more experience. The amount of clever camerawork and directing techniques here is insane, and all of them serve the storytelling beautifully. The dude showed skill beyond his years with this.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 86/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10. The movie was nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best original screenplay.

“Sex, Lies, and Videotape” is an excellent little drama that wonderfully explores the lives of our characters. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” is a 9,87/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” is now completed.

How in the hell is this a debut? Did Soderbergh sell his soul to the devil or something?

One thought on “Movie Review: Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

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