25 July 2003 | csm23
The same as you learned in Sunday School, only the exemplars are different
Sex, Lies and Videotape will probably strike the average viewer as irredeemably degenerate, maybe even perverted, since voyeurism is still considered aberrant behavior. But as far as this film is concerned, that's the appearance, not the reality. Whereas the drama revolves to a certain extent around the voyeuristic masturbation of an impotent man, the heart and soul of the film is an unrelenting, hard driving psychological siege on the biggest erogenous zone of all: the brain.
This film is about sex. But it's not about the frothy swapping of fluids and feelings. It's about honesty, without which one can't have intimacy, which is to sexual stimulation what the water valve is to the hydrant. From beginning to end, we see this theme brought into focus by the dramatic contrast between two different relationships the one based on lies and deceit, the other based upon honesty. And guess which one wins out in the long run?
In a sense, it's what your mother and Sunday school teacher taught you all along. But what makes this movie way more interesting than your mother or Sunday school teacher is the level of honesty it suggests is necessary as the basis of a healthy relationship. Ann (Andy McDowell), for example, an acceptably moral person tells the voyeuristic masturbator `You got a problem.' He replies by adding that he has a lot of problems. But, he says, `They belong to me.'
Somehow, the openness about one's problems renders their bile and poison ineffective. `Lilies that fester,' said Shakespeare, `smell far worse than weeds.'