Rolling Stone - 08/24/1989
"...A dazzling feature debut, Steven Soderbergh proves himself a writer and director of uncommon gifts....A movie of prodigious power and feeling that is also high-spirited, hilarious and scorchingly erotic..."
Entertainment Weekly - 01/08/1999
"...Spare..." -- Rating: A-
New York Times - 08/04/1989
"...A film whose enormous authority and intelligence extend to every detail....One of the freshest American films of the decade..."
New York Times - 12/24/1989
Included in the New York Times "10 Best Films of 1989" List
"...SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE is one of the best American independent films in quite a long while, a sexy, nuanced, beautifully controlled examination of how a quartet of people are defined by their erotic impulses and inhibitions..."
Film Comment - 07/01/1989
"...A stunning first film..."
Premiere - 12/01/2003
"Steven Soderbergh's uncompromisingly arty view of bourgeois indiscretion won prizes at Cannes and Sundance and galvanized the American independent film movement."
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. A chain of attraction and jealousy develops as the four interconnect in several varied pairings, culminating with Ann's decision to become Graham's latest subject. Soderbergh's highly influential debut independent feature plays like a dangerous thriller that builds in tension until everyone's secrets are bitterly exposed.
For a young, impotent man, watching taped interviews of women talk about their sexual habits is his only physical pleasure. When his friend's wife discovers her husband's affair with her sister, she insists on being interviewed on tape--an act that will ensure the breakup of her marriage. Steven Soderbergh's taut drama, which contains stirring performances by the film's four leads, is widely considered the grandparent of the independent film insurrection.
The film was shot on location in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with an estimated budget of $1.2 million, using Panavision equipment and Agfa XT320 stock.
The surprise hit grossed nearly $25 million at the box office.
Writer-director Steven Soderbergh was 26 when he made the movie, which was financed from monies paid up front by domestic video distributors.
SEX, LIES... marked Laura San Giacomo's film debut.
The film is dedicated to Ann Dollard (1956-1988).
The film was shown at the Cannes and Edinburgh Film Festivals and the Toronto Festival of Festivals in 1989; it won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, which sparked a controversy with director Spike Lee, whose DO THE RIGHT THING was also in contention that year. Lee stated that he "was robbed" of the award in favor of a young white director whose film had less overtly political content.
This film is the only one of his that Soderbergh has seen in a theater with a regular audience; he called the experience "very odd."
Peter Gallagher also starred in Soderbergh's THE UNDERNEATH.
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