Written and directed by first timer Steven Soderbergh, this relatively low budget flick actually received quite a bit of acclaim. Nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, it lost to Stones' Born on the 4th of July, but won Best Picture and Best Actor (Spader) at the Cannes Film Festival.
The movie centers around four main characters: Andie MacDowell & Peter Gallagher (husband and wife), Laura San Giacomo (Andie's sister & Peters' lover) and James Spader (Peters' ex-college roommate). I have always found Gallagher and Spader to be a little disturbing. They always appear edgy, sexual and a tad bit frightening. This story is no exception as Gallagher is a high profile, energetic attorney married to MacDowell and schlepping her sister, San Giacomo, on the side. Spader, his former college roommate, is patiently filming ladies that agree to discuss their most intimate sexual encounters and desires with him........hmmmmmm.
Andie MacDowell, with her innocent schoolgirl looks, has the ability to go either way - sometimes softly sexual, sometimes wide eyed innocent and sometimes unleashed tiger. She pretty much runs the gambit of all her sides in this release as she delves into her repressed psyche with her therapist, approaches her slightly defunct relationship with Gallagher, and her burgeoning relationship with Spader.
San Giacomo plays the alluring sexual sibling, hating being in her sisters shadow and always striving to best her. Hence the relationship with Gallagher. She becomes intrigued with Spader, again to spite her sister, and makes a film of her own for him telling of her indiscretion with Gallagher, which she ends at the same time. Of course, MacDowell sees this tape and decides to do a little confessing of her own.
I found the concept of this movie quite delightful, if a little on the dark side. Despite it's come hither title, Sex, Lies and Videotape relies more on the audio side of sex in lieu of the visual side. Sometimes it is definitely moody and disturbing as you watch these characters lives unravel before you, but it builds to an emotion ending. I particularly enjoyed the role reversal when MacDowell, in the middle of her video tape, turns the camera on Spader. At times it is almost painful to watch his confessions on tape.
For an unknown, I found this production very clean and concise. Mr. Soderbergh takes initiative and patience to draw the characters out and involve the actors in their parts. He appears both professional and sensitive. Five thumbs up!
Pros: An original concept Cons: Needed more character development The Bottom Line: Explore the lives of four individuals who all view sex in different ways while becoming involved in lies to achieve what they want. Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. While checking the listings of what was on television last evening I came across Sex, Lies and Videotape on the Sundance channel. This … more
Steven Soderbergh explodes onto the scene with this provocative, intelligent drama about infidelity and voyeurism. Ann Milaney (Andie MacDowell) lives in a comfortable Louisiana home with her lawyer husband, John (Peter Gallagher). She spends her days fretting over the insurmountable problems of the world and her own unfocused sense of melancholy. Although she doesn't know it, she has a good reason to be upset: John is having a torrid affair with her younger, more extroverted sister, Cynthia (the sexy Laura San Giacomo). When Graham Dalton (James Spader), an old college pal of John's, comes to visit, all three are momentarily distracted from personal problems and intrigues as they scrutinize the odd outsider. Ann soon discovers that Graham has some strange habits and problems of his own. Plagued by impotency since the calamitous breakup of his last relationship, the young drifter finds sexual gratification by videotaping women willing to talk about their sexual past and fantasies in front of the camera. ...