31 May 2004 | canadude
Lies and Videotape, but mostly talk
Yes, "Sex, Lies and Videotape" is about sex, lies and videotape. And, while the sex is mostly served in dialogue-form and not a single shot of nudity is present, there is some graphic lying and some explicit videotape. Kinky, right?
Well, not really. "Sex, Lies and Videotape" is Steven Sodenbergh's first film and it's not a bad one. It's just not entirely worthy of the praise it received, at Cannes for example. The situations in the film do create a fair amount of tension that moves the story along. But then, it'd be hard not to have some tension in a film about a woman whose husband is cheating on her with her sister, while she starts interacting with a stranger who is the husband's old college roommate and has a strange videotape fetish and may or may not be a pathological liar. (How do you believe someone who just confessed to having been a pathological liar to not being one anymore? The film doesn't really riddle that one for us.)
Clearly, these characters clash together. But it's not as heated or interesting as it was in later Sodenbergh's films like the spectacular "Traffic." The dialogues in "Sex, Lies and Videotape" range from good to incredibly awkward. But the real strength of the film is the actors. While James Spader clearly stands out - I have never seen him deliver such a subtle performance where every scene simply works for him - Andie McDowell is phenomenal, Peter Gallagher playing the scummy, treacherous husband yuppie lawyer type is great and Laura San Giacomo as the vulgar sister / lover is fabulous. Their performances make the script work, which, under normal circumstances with inferior actors would have seemed rather silly.