Steven Soderbergh kickstarted the independent film movement of the 1990s with this landmark drama about the tangled relationships among four people and a video camera. John (Peter Gallagher) is an unscrupulous, self-centered yuppie lawyer with a beautiful wife named Ann (Andie MacDowell). Ann feels secure and well provided-for in their relationship, but she has almost no interest in sex; she tells her therapist that she's more concerned about waste disposal. John, however, is still quite interested in sex and is having an affair with Ann's sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo), whose personality is fire to Ann's ice; sex is the one area in which she's been able to best her more successful sister, and she relishes her ability to seduce Ann's husband. Into this dysfunctional picture comes Graham (James Spader), a college friend of John's whom he hasn't seen in nine years. Graham has decided that talking about sex is more interesting than actually having sex, so he meets women and asks them discuss their desires and fantasies as he tapes them with a camcorder. A sensation at the Sundance Film Festival, the film made that festival a synonym for a new brand of low-budget indie dramas about contemporary life and relationships. Together with Quentin Tarantino's very different Pulp Fiction (1994), sex, lies, and videotape was one of the most influential movies for independent filmmaking of the 1990s.
by Mark Deming synopsis