Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher
Trivia: The role of Ann was originally written for Elizabeth McGovern, and was later offered to Brooke Shields, who turned it down
Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Steven Soderbergh’s award-winning independent film, is a deeply erotic experience. Yet its eroticism exists on a level much more intense, much more complicated than the physical act of love could ever hope to be.
Ann (Andie MacDowell) has lost her sex drive, pushing her husband, John (Peter Gallagher) into the arms of another woman; namely Ann’s tempestuous sister, Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo). Graham (James Spader), an old college buddy of John’s, has just moved into the area. Graham has a very unusual hobby: he videotapes women as they discuss their sexual history. The lives of all four are thrown into chaos when Ann agrees to become Graham’s next subject, revealing a frightening truth that ultimately awakens something within them all.
Sex, Lies, and Videotape returns its characters to a time in their lives when sexuality was fresh and unexplored. Along with Ann, Cynthia also ends up making a videotape for Graham, and, like her sister, finds the very act of talking about her sexual past to be a a life-altering experience. By reliving such escapades, each of the women is brought to a heightened state of awareness, one that had long lied dormant amidst the treachery and deceit of their actual sex lives. All at once, the two siblings remember that sexuality can, in fact, be quite rewarding.
I was amazed at the high degree of sensuality present in Sex, Lies, and Videotape, especially since the film has no real sexual content to speak of (the traditional kind, that is). For these four individuals, sex had become a destructive force in their lives, and the remedy was a simple trip down memory lane. At the very least, Sex, Lies, and Videotape is proof positive the most powerful erogenous zone in the human body can be found well north of the waistline.