sex, lies, and videotape

April 19, 2006 - Steven Soderbergh made his mark as a director with this 1989 low-budget film. The cast stars Andie MacDowell, James Spader, Laura San Giacomo and Peter Gallagher.

MacDowell plays Ann Bishop Mullany, a Southern housewife married to John (Gallagher), an up-and-coming lawyer who's just been made a junior partner at his law firm. While Ann talks to her shrink, John sleeps with bartender Cynthia (San Giacomo), who is also Ann's sister. Everything changes when Graham (Spader) comes to town.

Graham and John used to be best friends. But, that was nine years ago. While John seems to have moved forward, Graham has been living out of his car and convincing women all over the country to tell him their sexual histories. Graham records these histories on video, assuring the women that he is the only one who will watch them. And, watch them he does - alone - because that's the only way anything works.

Ann is alternately fascinated and repulsed by Graham. But, when she finally figures out that her husband is sleeping with her sister, it's Graham who she goes to. She starts telling him her story, but quickly turns the tables and Graham becomes the interviewee.

Overall review: *** Fascinating all the way around, from the way it's structured to the overall lack of a soundtrack. There is very little music in this film, but I think that's a good thing because you can really focus on what the characters say and do. In the end, the people who seemed the most screwed up turn out to be the most normal of them all.

The only thing that bothered me is that it is never explained how Graham gets his money. He has video equipment, a car, a limited wardrobe, and enough money to rent an apartment. Yet, we never see him working. At one point, Ann actually asks him where he gets his money. Graham's answer: "Underneath the mattress."