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Art House

Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989)

SexLies

Duration 1h 40m Rating (UK) 18
Source of story An original screenplay
Director Steven Soderbergh
Writers/Script Steven Soderbergh
Starring James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher, Laura San Giacomo

Elevator Pitch: Ann Mullany is a young married woman in therapy, where she discusses her perception of the world with her therapist. Meanwhile her husband John is having sex with her sister, Cynthia, during his extended lunch hours, to the point that his job may be in jeopardy. Then Graham, an old friend of John’s turns up and Ann helps him find an apartment. Graham confesses to her that he is impotent and gets off on watching tapes of women talking about their sex lives. The knowledge encourages Cynthia to visit him and make a tape which she discusses with Ann. Meanwhile Ann discovers evidence that her husband is being unfaithful to her and angrily decides to make a tape as well. How will it all pan out?

Content: There is a lot of implied sex, but no nudity and quite a bit of discussion about a variety of sexual activities. Also a bit of smoking and some casual drinking – Cynthia works as a bartender. Ann spends time with her therapist, and for some of the film her views are a voice-over. John is seen in his office sometimes getting calls from Cynthia, causing him to abandon his work, and we see him and Cynthia just before, or just after, sex. Ann and Cynthia talk, Graham and Ann talk. Graham watches some videos.

A View: This movie was given five stars by those critics who reviewed it; it was well liked by the general public, and it won one or two prizes. It just happens that I discovered the script in a second hand bookshop a couple of years ago, and so was able to read it. It is masterful stuff, illustrating the power of the written word, as opposed to that of the moving image. It brought to mind a moment when I was a teenager, and was transfixed by Kathrine Hepburn’s Miss Venable in “Suddenly Last Summer”. So, if you decide to watch this movie don’t expect too much action, but listen carefully to the dialogue.

Additional info: Sex, Lies and Videotape was only one of half a dozen titles proposed by the director to the producers.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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