Sex, Lies, and Videotape Movie Review Summary

Actors: James Spader, Andie McDowell

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Ann (Andie McDowell) is married to John (Peter Gallagher). John is a wildly successful lawyer and the two live in a striking home in LA. Though Ann and John live the kind of life that incites intense envy from others- a handsome, successful, young lawyer married to a gorgeous but modest woman – there is darkness behind the facade.
Click here to see the rest of this review

John is sleeping with Ann's sister Cynthia. Cynthia, while attractive and sexy, missed out on Ann's remarkable beauty. She is a petty person who is turned on by the destructive act of sleeping with her brother-in-law. For his part, John is morally bankrupt - let us just say that he does not lie awake at night cringing with remorse over his ongoing affair with his wife's sister.

We learn that Ann and John are no longer sexual with each other – Ann speaks with her therapist about this, though she claims that this is not an issue for her.

Enter Graham (James Spader). Graham was John's college roommate and arrives to stay with him and Ann for a while. He is a smart guy who has turned his back on what he sees as a corrupt society; he values honesty in all things. Ann and Graham fall into a flirty way of speaking with each other. They begin to share sexual secrets.

You see, Graham likes to film women revealing their sexual fantasies. It really turns him on, though nothing else does. He is, he confides to Ann, impotent. Ann has a secret of her own, she tells Graham that she is attracted to men other than her husband. It is her husband that she is physically removed from and uninterested in physically, not all men. Graham films Ann.

The film moves confidently toward an end that resolves some of its broken relationships, Ann and Graham get together and Cynthia decides to leave John to his own devices. Things get messy when John discovers that Ann made a tape with Graham, though it would be the rare viewer that would believe John deserved better.
Best part of story, including ending: James Spader is young and smoulders with sensuality in this film. It is difficult to look away from him when he in onscreen. Also, the peeling away of the materialistic structure of Ann and John's life is intriguing. All in all, a well directed, well acted, somewhat intense and always sensual film.

Best scene in story: Ann goes to a therapy session at the beginning of the film. She is funny and quirky and perfectly sets up the tension between what appears to be and what is that develops as the plot goes on. She laments the amount of garbage that is piling up on our planet when asked about the sexual health of her marriage. Funny.

Opinion about the main character: Ann and Graham are given equal weight as main characters. Ann is unsure of herself; someone who is finding her way in life, though one wonders why she ever joined herself to John's life in marriage. She is brave in her engagements with Graham which is attractive. Graham is all intensity; it is impossible not to admire his insistence on honesty, though it is unveiled that it is because he really hurt a former lover by cheating on her that honesty became his mantra.

The review of this Movie prepared by Lorna Mac Neil

Writer-director Steven Soderbergh burst on the scene at the age of 28 with this film, which took the grand prize and best actor awards at Cannes in 1989. James Spader is a young, rootless videomaker who is working on a project filming women talking about their sexual experiences. He visits an old college friend who is a self-involved yuppie lawyer having a torrid affair with his wife's younger, spunky sister. Andie MacDowell has rarely been better than her Southern yuppie homemaker, and Peter Gallagher and Laura San Giacomo were suprisingly good newcomers in the other roles. The film is gently intense, delicate, and moving.
The review of this Movie prepared by David Loftus

Script Analysis of Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Time/era of movie:    -   1980's-1999 Romance/Love/Hugging    -   Yes Taboo Sex Story?    -   Yes Kind of sex:    -   voyeurism

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   unemployed Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Southeast City?    -   Yes City:    -   Los Angeles    -   wealthy

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   no torture/death Sex/nudity in movie?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only    -   kissing    -   touching of personal anatomy    -   actual description of sex    -   sex under blankets Any profanity?    -   Occasional swearing

Movies with storylines, themes & endings like Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Sex, Lies, and Videotape Message Board (click here)
Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian