Sex, Lies, & Videotape (1989) 3.71/5 (1)


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Rating: The Good – 77.1
Genre: Drama
Duration: 100 mins
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher

Steven Soderbergh’s debut is a low-budget and languidly paced drama about four people, their relationships, and their intertwined attitudes towards sex. It’s a well crafted exploration into voyeurism and works very well as a meta-analysis given the conversational/confessional nature of that exploration and the purposeful lack of nudity or any explicit sex scenes. Andie MacDowell and Peter Gallagher are just about good enough as the estranged couple but given that both have never been great at imbuing their characters with personality, it’s difficult to relate to either. Adding James Spader’s typically skewed performance was risky in that it could have alienated the audience further but it’s in his soft and meditative performance that the other characters are tied together. That and Soderbergh’s intricately connected constructs of loneliness, deception, and sex. Of course, Soderbergh’s delicate craft in combining visuals and sound is the primary driver of this film and it’s a remarkably insightful piece of film-making. It’s through his talent that an ostensibly simple story develops the thematic layers it does and it’s that quiet complexity that allows the film to be appreciated more with each viewing. Though controversial on its release, Sex, Lies, & Videotape has lost much of its edginess but it did pave the way for even more intense explorations of the subject such as Cronenberg’s Crash which also starred Spader.

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