Sunday, November 18, 2012

sex, lies, and videotape (1989)

With a title like "sex, lies, and videotape", this film has garnered quite a reputation, and you have a tendency to impose certain expectations - like that it be particularly salacious. Which, it's not, really. It's intimate, but it didn't strike me the way I was expecting it to.

As a film, it's very intriguing, and it builds an engrossing atmosphere, with an emphasis on character and psychology. And the premise is, indeed, fascinating. James Spader is excellent as a mysterious drifter who is allegedly impotent in the presence of women, but who likes instead to videotape interviews with women about their sex lives. (Although this does contribute to the stereotype that voyeurs are freaks who can't attract/satisfy a partner, and so must resort to watching from a distance).

I thought - and it appears this way at first - that this would be a positive characterization of a 'voyeur' whom the audience can respect and understand, who doesn't hurt or lie to people, and actually manages to approach sex from a unique perspective that helps even mainstream people relate to their own sexual experiences in a stronger way (like what happens with Cynthia). And it is, for a while. But then we come to the end, and the plot gets kind of confusing, and it turns out this guy is a 'recovering' pathological liar, and his scheme with the videotapes was just a pathetic ruse to get his nine years long ex-girlfriend whom he may have been physically abusive toward to see that he's a better person now.

Yeah. I don't know what to say. Fascinating premise, good atmosphere and characters. But I'm not sure what I'm supposed to take away from this movie, and I'm really not sure that, whatever it is, it's anything close to what exactly I'd like a movie with this premise to say.

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