Sex, Lies And Videotape [DVD] 
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Director Steven Soderbergh's debut film. Ann (Andie MacDowell) is unaware that her successful lawyer husband (Peter Gallagher) is having an affair with her less inhibited, and virtually estranged, sister (Laura San Giacomo). This only comes to light when her husband's old college mate Graham (James Spader) comes to stay. Shy and impotent, he gets his kicks from making videos of women talking about their sex lives.
Steven Soderbergh made a striking directorial debut with 1989's Sex, Lies and Videotape, a film that's intimate yet alienated, objective yet intense. James Spader is at one with the part of friendly yet distant Graham, returning to his home town for a reunion with school friend and now up-and-coming lawyer, John, and his sexually frustrated wife, Ann. The "special project" that Graham keeps close to his chest in his apartment gradually draws in the others, turning their emotional lives upside down and providing the catharsis that they sorely need.
Soderbergh keeps the pacing taut, encouraging an ensemble-like interplay that evokes a theatre piece perfectly remade for film. Andie MacDowell gives one of her most convincing screen portrayals as Ann, with Peter Gallagher cynically self-righteous as John. Laura San Giacomo proves choice casting as nymphet sibling Cynthia. Cliff Martinez's sultry ambient score adds much to the aura of mystery and intrigue.
On the DVD: Sex, Lies and Videotape's widescreen picture format captures much of the movie's claustrophobic tension. There are overdubs in five European languages and subtitles in 13 languages, but no other special features--not even the original theatrical trailer--which is a pity. Soderbergh is among the most inventive directors at work today, so a commentary would have been a welcome enhancement. Even so, this DVD reissue reinforces the claims of an absorbing and disturbing indie masterpiece. --Richard Whitehouse
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Top Customer Reviews
What changed? The film itself was obviously the same, although a second viewing cleared up a few minor points. I think that for some people, it takes more than one viewing to realise just how unusual and beautiful it is.
The first copy I owned (bought from amazon z-shops as, ironically, a certain megastore did not have copies on videotape and I did not then have a DVD player) was the one with Laura San Giacomo on the cover. Although she is the fourth cast member listed in the credits, she is the only one on the front and side of the packaging of that particular edition. My immediate reaction on seeing her was, "Yeah, like you're the main reason for watching this film".
It took a while for it to dawn on me that Ms San Giacomo is MARVELLOUS reason to see the film. Her character, Cynthia, in contrast to some drippy 1980s film heroines, lives by her own rules, and gets away with it. Sure, she has her vulnerable side, demonstrated when she asks Graham (James Spader) if he thinks she is pretty. However, she is not controlled by her insecurities, or by anybody else.
The casting director must have needed tact when casting San Giacomo. The script makes it clear that many people consider Cynthia's sister Ann (Andie MacDowell) to be the more attractive of the two. The casting is spot-on.
MacDowell, frequently seen on TV advertising skin- and hair-care products, looks very attractive in a conventional way. San Giacomo is equally attractive, but in a less conventional way, and is an extremely talented actress.Read more ›
The lead character in the story is Ann (Andie MacDowell). Ann is a frustrated & fed-up house wife who suspects her husband John (Peter Gallagher) of having an affair.
Some events happen & a (drifting) friend of John's is invited over to dinner at the couple's home.
We are then introduced to Graham (James Spader). Graham is an unemployed loner, with an unusual obsession with videoing women as they document their sex life.
The viewer soon finds that John's mistress is in fact Ann's younger sister (Laura San Giacomo) her polar opposite; a free spirited, barmaid.
What I really liked about the film was the way it is a romatic movie (I really hate romantic movies for the record), but it still manages to be real & deep. Although there is a 'happy' ending which usually I don't like in romances, it is plausible & I was satisified with it because it wasn't overtly-romantic (or vomit-worthy).
What I didn't like about the film was a lot of the questions posed that were not answered (e.x why did Graham film women talking about their sex lives? Why didn't Cynthia feel any remorse for betraying her sister so badly?)But I suppose the mystery is partially what makes the film so intriguing.
The acting is phenomenal. I'll admit it, when I heard Andie MacDowell was the starring lead of the film I didn't really expect much of the film (I mean after that horendous performance in 'Four Weddings & A Funeral' my perception of her as an actress were considerably low). After seeing 'Sex, Lies & Videotape', I can now say she is a good actress.Read more ›