Ann's (Andie MacDowell) marriage to John (Peter Gallagher) is not good as they no longer sleep with each other and she resorts to speaking to a therapist which is dominated by her concerns over garbage. Meanwhile John, a lawyer, is sleeping with Ann's sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo). But things take a curious change when John's old college friend Graham (James Spader) arrives in town to stay with them and immediately strikes up a friendship with Ann. But then Graham has an unusual hobby as he videos women giving their sexual confessions about their deepest desires.
There are a lot of people who tend to only enjoy one sort of movie, what I really mean is that there are those who dig easy to watch commercial cinema and those who enjoy the thought provoking style of independent cinema. For me whilst I prefer mainstream, commercial cinema I enjoy exploring outside my comfort zone but do so knowing that I often will struggle and end up being disappointed by what I watched. That brings me to Steven Soderbergh's much praised "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" and a movie which I have put off seeing because of it shall we say being outside the box. Unfortunately whilst I can appreciate why those who prefer independent cinema loving it, it didn't float my boat.
Now for that reason I am not going to go into a lot of detail as to what happens but say that Graham's arrival brings true feelings to the surface. The connection which he makes with Ann leads to her coming out of her shell when her curiosity gets the better of her and agrees to be videoed by Graham, charmed by his flirtatious and probing ways. This leads to a series of other events when the other people's issues start to come to the surface.
Now what does that mean, well it means we have some very open discussions surrounding sex and fantasies which probably was boundary pushing back in 1989 but now seem surprisingly normal. But that makes it a wordy movie, a movie about the characters and what they say rather than what they actually do. It is why I struggled with it as whilst not opposed to verbose character based movies I can find them hard to really get into and found all the discussions in "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" to staged rather than natural.
The wordy nature of "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" is not my only issue as I struggled with much of the acting because like the conversations the characters don't feel of this world. An early scene where Ann blushes when asked if she masturbates just felt unnatural even for a woman who is shall we say sexually repressed. But it has to be said that James Spader's mysterious although more curious stranger is a wonderful performance, edgy, erotic, king but dangerous and to be honest one of Spader's best performances.
What this all boils down to is that "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" was not for me as whilst I can appreciate why many are impressed by it, its word nature and unbelievable characters didn't impress me in the way it has others.