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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Sex Lies & Videotape (1989) - Spotlight on... Trailblazers

"Are you having an affair?" - Andie MacDowell (as Ann in 'Sex, Lies and Videotape')

Laura San Giacomo as Cynthia is having an
affair with her sister's husband
'Sex, Lies and Videotape' (1989) is a controversial independent film directed by Steven Soderbergh, and starring Andie MacDowell, James Spader, Peter Gallagher and Laura San Giacomo.

Sex, Lies and Videotape' was a very significant film at the time of it's release and highly influential in the progression of the independent film movement during the 1990s.

In 2006, the film was added to the Library of Congresses National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".

David Spader as Graham watches
his videotapes
The film begins with Ann (played by MacDowell) confiding to her therapist about her unhappy marriage to husband John (played by Gallagher).  Ann is also annoyed John has agreed to let his college friend Graham Dalton (played by Spader) stay with them, without consulting with her first. Ironically after Graham arrives, Ann builds a strong rapport with him and the two develop a connection. That is until Ann discovers Graham's secret hobby of videotape interviewing women about their sexual experiences and fantasies.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Ann, her husband John is having an affair with her sister, Cynthia (played by San Giacomo).

Ann's video

I like the way in which we do not see the content of Ann's video as it is being filmed. After Ann says her name the scene cuts to when Ann returns home. It isn't until later when John visits Graham, that we see the content of Ann's videotape.  Through Soderbergh's technique, we (the film spectator) experience the video at the same time as John does, which empowers us to empathise with the feelings of shock and emotion.

Watch some memorable clips from the film:

Clip - "Ain't You A Picture"

Clip - "Finding the videotapes"

Clip - "Cynthia's Interview"

Clip - "Sex with Cynthia"

Clip - "Disarming her suspicions"

Closing remarks

'Sex, Lies and Videotape' caused a stir of controversy at the time of it's release. The film was instrumental in launching Soderbergh's career as a film director, and also made a star of Andie MacDowell.  Despite the perversion of the storyline, 'Sex, Lies and Videotape' is a very well made independent film and is enjoyable to watch.

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