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Sex, Lies and Videotape


Roger Davidson

Sex, Lies and Videotape
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This fascinating debut from director Steven Soderbergh offers the argument that conversation is more erotic and interesting than sex. Well, we've heard such arguments before, but none have convinced me more than the one in this film. The story is as follows. A successful lawyer (Peter Gallagher) invites his old college buddy (James Spader) for a visit. Gallagher is having an affair with his sister-in-law (Laura San Giacomo), supposedly for the reason that he thinks his wife (Andie MacDowell) has turned frigid, though his real motives aren't clear until near the end. MacDowell and Giacomo in the meantime are going through a bit of sibling rivalry. They love each other, but they loathe each other's lifestyles (Giacomo's free-spirited, MacDowell's sexually repressed). As for Spader, he doesn't dream of the effect that he'll have on all the other characters lives, with a little help from his trusty videocamera, of course.

Excellent acting by the four leads and a knowing script (with plenty of witty insights into marriage, adultery and impotence) will keep you affixed to your seat. The film is mostly just conversation, but there is not one dull moment in the film. Of all the characters, my favorite was MacDowell. She turned a potentially cliched goodie-two-shoes character into an original, intelligent role. There are plenty of moments here that remind us that you don't need gratuitous sex scenes to be turned on. As for whether sex is better than conversation, or conversation is better than sex,.that's more a matter of taste, although this movie does a good job at convincing you of the latter.

My Rating = Four Stars

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