Sex, Lies, and Videotape

August 18, 1989 0 By Fans
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Still of Andie MacDowell in Sex, Lies, and VideotapeStill of Laura San Giacomo in Sex, Lies, and VideotapeStill of James Spader in Sex, Lies, and Videotape


A sexually repressed woman's husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything.

Release Year: 1989

Rating: 7.1/10 (22,214 voted)

Critic's Score: 86/100

Steven Soderbergh

Stars: James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher

Ann is married to John, who is having an affair with her sister Cynthia. Ann's a quiet type and unwilling to let herself go. When John's old friend, Graham, shows up, all their lives change. Graham likes to videotape interviews with women.


James Spader

Graham Dalton

Andie MacDowell

Ann Bishop Mullany

Peter Gallagher

John Mullany

Laura San Giacomo

Cynthia Patrice Bishop

Ron Vawter


Steven Brill


Alexandra Root

Girl on Tape

Earl T. Taylor


David Foil

John's Colleague

Release Date: 18 August 1989

Filming Locations: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $1,200,000


Opening Weekend: £59,372
(10 September 1989)
(6 Screens)

Gross: $24,741,700

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


In one scene, we watch a videotaped confession by one of James Spader's character's past lovers. The director gave the script and a video camera to actress Jennifer Jason Leigh in order for her to tape the speech at home with the help of her boyfriend, but they never got around to it and, once filming began, a crew member was used in the brief role.


The amount of ice tea in Anne's glass when she first visits Graham's house. He hands her a glass about half full and then later we see that it is filled almost completely when she almost spills it.


[first lines]

Garbage. All I've been thinking about all week is garbage. I mean, I just can't stop thinking about it.

User Review


Rating: 10/10

"sex, lies and videotape" is a low-key drama that REALLY showcases Stephen
Soderbergh's true talents. The film was made on a modest budget and is
mainly dialogue-driven, yet I was deeply fascinated from start to finish.
This is another film that sends out a message to all aspiring directors:
You don't need a large budget to make a truly great motion picture!
Soderbergh hasn't received worldwide fame until recently with the hit
"Traffic." As much as I loved "Traffic" I urge everyone–who's curious of
Soderbergh's work–go check out this initial effort.

The element that impressed me the most was the succint, yet brutally
realistic dialogue. I've never been more impressed with a film's dialogue
and actually screamed out, "Now THAT'S how people talk!" The interactions
between each character are so intense and down to earth, and gets the
audience deeply engaged. James Spader shines in this career-making
performance as a documentary filmmaker who gets his rocks off filming women
talking about sex. We never know why he developed this unusual interest,
but that's what's so great. And the way Spader carries his character is so
subtle and powerful. His character is quiet and mysterious, and he
expresses this enigmatic role perfectly with every silence, every facial
gesture, every tone of voice. That's another element that I loved.
Soderbergh expresses to his audience that people don't always mean what they
say. And you can tell by every hint of body language. During these
character interplays, you get a feel for what the characters are really
thinking with their every subtle nuance. And that's what creates most of
the film's tension.

And of course, the film has great depth and treats its subject with the
greatest of maturity. In one scene, Spader interviews this young woman who
talks about her first experience with masturbation. That could've easily
been transformed into something gratuitous and heavy-handed. The subjects
of sex and infidelity are treated with a sense of reality, and I'm sure many
couples who are involved in relationships where one of the mates are
cheating will find the whole situation with Andie McDowell and Peter
Gallagher haunting. Everything is low-key and some might find the rhythm
slow-moving, but that's what I liked about it. It slowly unfolds and takes
its time developing the characters and their situations. Many filmmakers
would've taken the subject of infidelity and made it into a melodramatic
soap. But Soderbergh is very patient. He never once thinks, "Maybe the
audience is not interested anymore," and speeds things up. He goes at his
own pace, and works with it consistently.

I don't know if others will get the same effect I did out of this movie, but
appreciate a film that respects its characters and respects its dialogue.
Sure, I also appreciate a film with massive entertainment value, but other
times I'd rather watch something with depth and realism. This is one of
those films that just has a subtle energy. Looking at "sex, lies and
videotape" from the outside, it's hard to explain the power of Soderbergh's
masterpiece. All I say is go see for yourself! I hope you'll be just as

My score: 10 (out of 10)