Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

sex lies and videotape poster 1989 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good cast, important change for Hollywood

Film doesn't seem as edgy as when it was released

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Studio:  Outlaw Productions

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  August 18, 1989

MPAA Rating:  R

sex lies and videotape grahm dalton ann andie macdowell james spader

I know we just met but do you want to tell me intimate secrets of your sex life?

Graham Dalton (James Spader) has come to Baton Rouge and reentered the life of his college friend John Mullany (Peter Gallagher).  John is married to Ann (Andie MacDowell) but sleeping with Ann’s sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo).  When Graham begins to get Cynthia and Ann to open up about their sexuality, Graham find spilling secrets could change him as well.

Written and directed by Steven Soderbergh, Sex, Lies, and Videotape (or stylized as sex, lies, and videotape) was the first film of Soderbergh.  The movie was credited for starting the independent film boom of the ’90s and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay after winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival.  The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2006.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #938).

sex lies and videotape cynthia laura san giacomo

I like being bad

For ages, Sex, Lies, and Videotape was one of my guilty movies…not because I liked it, but as someone who loves film, I never did see it.  I heard stories about it, saw clips, and just never saw the movie until now.  Watching Sex, Lies, and Videotape with no nostalgia, it still is a good film and a solid film, but it isn’t my favorite film.

The story is pretty basic, and it does not seem as edgy as when it was released.  A couple is secretly having problems because it is actually a trio and the injection of an unknown element into the relationships (Spader) causes an explosion.  Despite a very original plot for the time, it is very easy to see where the story is going to go and where the characters are probably going to end up (the only wild card may have been Giacomo who could have either ended up vilified or pardoned).

sex lies and videotape john cynthia affair plant laura san giacomo peter gallagher

Don’t pick the flowers…

The acting is good.  Andie MacDowell is the “nice girl” at the time and feels like an alternative to Julia Roberts.  Spader is generally always good and it is nice to see him play a more likable character (despite the slimy taping) when he often played the evil foil in the ’80s.  Both Peter Gallagher and Laura San Giacomo have never been favorites of mine, but they do work in this film.

Visually, the movie is very simple as well.  Sex, Lies, and Videotape could easily be a play and you can tell it had a very low shooting budget with the limited locations and settings.  Soderbergh still makes the most of what he had, and the movie still looks good.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape was a game changer.  It showed that small, low-budget films could make a big splash not only at awards show but at theaters…leading to huge profits if the film was successful.  The film put Miramax on the map and make it a big player.  Sex, Lies, and Videotape was a start of Soderbergh but a big change in Hollywood as well…which makes it worth seeing just for that.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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