Sex, Lies, and Videotape
This is no ordinary love triangle
As far as titles go, Sex, Lies, and Videotape hits the nail on the head as a perfect summary of this films contents. It is an intriguing and strange low-budget film that helped jump started Steven Soderbergh's career.
This story is centered around Ann (Andie MacDowell) a housewife in the midst of a sexless marriage with John (Peter Gallagher) a philandering lawyer who has been sleeping with Ann's free-spirited sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo). Further complicating matters is the arrival of Graham (James Spader) an old friend of John's who is staying at Ann and John's house while finds an apartment. Ann soon becomes intrigued by Graham's openness and drifter lifestyle, something that disgusts John. Tension builds as each character is caught in a bizarre web involving sex, lies, and videotape.
The screenplay of this film is brilliantly written. It is no wonder that writer-director Soderbergh was catapulted to stardom after its release. Each character is presented with an obvious flaw, Ann's frigidity, John's philandering, Cynthia's free-spirited nature, and Graham's appetite for voyeurism and general creepiness. He is able to bring together a simple story about human beings and their sexual desires and make it compelling. This is no ordinary love triangle.
James Spader shines as the creepy voyeur Graham. The viewer can see from the get go that Graham is no ordinary individual based on the brilliantly written opening exchange between him and Ann. Andie MacDowell also fits her role nicely as she gives a convincing performance as Ann the frigid housewife stuck in a bad marriage. Gallagher, better known perhaps as a TV and character actor, embodies the stereotypical workaholic attorney who strays his marriage in his role as John. Laura San Giacomo brings it altogether as the free-spirited bartender Cynthia, a polar opposite of her sister who may or may not be a nympho.
The only improvement that could have been made is the back story of some of the characters. While the relationship between Ann and John is explained well, there is no real explanation of the prior relationship between Graham and John, other than the fact that they partied at college (who didn't?). The only thing tying them together is this and the ending exchange about a girl. Perhaps with the film's relatively short running time this could have been better explaining.
As a whole, this a very good film. It shows the creative genius of Soderbergh to make such a simple yet intriguing film. As a low-budget indie film, this is one the best. Certainly a must see.