“Sex, lies and video”, by Steven Soderbergh: our review

By Caroline Besse

Published on May 17, 2024 at 8:00 a.m.

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Pfirst film, selection at the Cannes Film Festival and Palme d’Or at the age of 26: with a screenplay written in eight days, the unknown Steven Soderbergh achieved a masterstroke and achieved worldwide recognition in 1989.

Graham (James Spader, moving), helpless, takes pleasure in carrying out interviews filmed on Camcorder with women making very intimate sexual confidences to him. One day, he arrives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana – the town where Soderbergh grew up – at the tidy house of an old friend, John (Peter Gallagher), a powerful and arrogant business lawyer, a golden boy figure highly prized by 1980s cinema. He is married to Ann (Andie MacDowell, irresistible), a housewife in therapy, for whom sex is an “overrated” thing, a burden. At the same time, John secretly maintains an affair with the exuberant Cynthia, Ann’s own sister…

Where does the truth lie? Can confessions be considered betrayals? Thanks to straight writing, Steven Soderbergh confronts each of the characters in this quartet with their own certainties and contradictions, pulverizing appearances and pretenses. A held up mirror that is difficult to look at. But brilliant.

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