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.
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The film that brought Stephen Soderbergh to prominence, Sex, lies, and videotape was recently added to the United States Library of Congressís National Film Registry as being culturally and historically significant. The independent film won the Palm díOr at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and brought critical and national acclaim to director Stephen Soderbergh. Sex, lies, and videotape explores the intimate sexual thoughts and experiences of various characters that opening up their deepest secrets and insecurities all for the pleasure of the misguided and voyeuristic character, Graham Dalton (Spader).
After being absent from Baton Rouge for nine years, Graham returns to friend John (Gallagher) who is in a troubled marriage with wife Ann (McDowell). Graham stays with the couple until finding a place of his own. He and Ann become close while John is consumed with work yet when he finds time, John sleeps with other women, specifically Annís sister, Cynthia (Giacomo). He reasons that because of Annís sexual repression, it forces him to look elsewhere for sexual satisfaction.
Meanwhile, Ann pays Graham a visit at his new apartment where she notices several tapes with the names of women listed on each. When pressed, Graham reveals that he tapes women as they talk about their sexual experiences and fantasies, which provides pleasure to Graham, the only way he knows how. Ann, shocked, leaves the apartment. Spader is captivating as the mysterious Graham whose sexual lust is derived from a previous relationship with one time girlfriend Elizabeth. He believes the tapes will help him become a better man
Spader plays the sympathetic lead haunted by his past sexual misfortune with Elizabeth. This character is unlike previous roles Spader has played in which he is usually cast as the villain in many of his films. Despite his creepy and odd presence, there is something sincere and honest in his performance that make use sympathize for the sexually frustrated and lost Graham.
This is the film that introduces Soderbergh to the world and his innovative style of filmmaking and talent for storytelling. His ability to create films that work more as character studies examining the intimate details of people lives is a joy to watch. There is something relatable about these characters because each one of them, to some degree, reflects with sincere honesty societyís views on sex and relationships.
The premise is simple but told in a way that makes you feel as if you are watching someoneís life unfold. The viewer feels like a voyeur, peeping into these characters hidden dark secrets. The strong performance, thanks in large part to the perfect casting by Soderbergh, elevates the film to another level many aspiring filmmakers hope to achieve. Sex, lies, and videotapes is a brilliant character piece that is both psychologically compelling and thrilling at the same time. Truly a masterpiece worth seeking and discussing.