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SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, July 27, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: Next year will be the 30th anniversary of this groundbreaking low-budget movie, which helped the Sundance Film Festival (before it adopted the “Sundance” name) gain recognition as an important showcase for independent pictures (and it did so five months before earning the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival). This year, the Criterion Collection is getting a jump on that anniversary with a new Blu-ray upgrade, with bonus features galore. Here’s my review, published in the Deseret News on Sept. 8, 1989. Personally, I was underwhelmed, but others obviously feel otherwise.

"sex, lies and videotape" garnered rave reviews all over the country — or rather, all over the world — having won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the audience prize at the United States Film Festival in Park City.

But when I saw it at Sundance I felt it was rather bland and pretentious, from its lower-case title — "sex, lies and videotape" — to its flat presentational style.

     

Peter Gallagher, left, Laura San Giacomo, Andie MacDowell, James Spader, 'sex, lies and videotape'

Seeing it again didn't change my mind, though it is easy to see why James Spader won the best actor award at Cannes. His subtle, shaded performance is an excellent portrayal of an aimless drifter who becomes a confidante to frustrated women and videotapes their frank discussions of their sex lives.

The story has him re-entering the life of an old high school buddy (Peter Gallagher), now a hotshot lawyer who is having an affair with his wife's sister.

     

Andie McDowell is very good as the wife, who eventually opens up to Spader, and Laura San Giacomo's fiery performance as the sister steals the show whenever she's on the screen.

But I was somewhat let down by the film as a whole, which seems to feign more than it actually achieves.

Rated R, "sex, lies and videotape" contains violence, sex, nudity and profanity.