Parents' Guide to

sex, lies and videotape

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Talky '80s drama has sex, cursing, mature themes.

Movie R 1989 100 minutes
sex, lies and videotape Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

This is a thoughtful movie about the challenge that true intimacy poses, but it's unlikely to interest teens. The movie has a pensive and cerebral quality rather than a pornographic one. Its freshness announced the directing career of the 26-year-old Steven Soderbergh as an artist interested in the twisted motivations of real, ordinary people. He suggests that the brain is the most vivid of human erogenous zones. If some scenes ramble on a bit too long or moments of improvisation between the talented young actors seem strained, the weaknesses are forgivable set against the courageousness and intelligence with which the director handles such tricky material. Not to mention that he wrote the script in only eight days.

The most brutally honest and self-aware character in sex, lies and videotape is played by a soft-spoken James Spader, who won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his work. His non-aggressive affect sits on the opposite extreme from the sexually predatory John, played by Peter Gallagher with a dollop of 1980s boom-time self-satisfaction. Perhaps the director's youth inevitably resulted in the work sometimes substituting honesty for depth, but the film is no less interesting for the flaws.

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