Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 1989. Outlaw Productions, Virgin. Screenplay by Steven Soderbergh. Cinematography by Walt Lloyd. Produced by John Hardy, Robert F. Newmyer. Music by Cliff Martinez. Production Design by Joanne Schmidt. Costume Design by James Ryder. Film Editing by Steven Soderbergh.
Astounding directorial debut by future Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh features one of the best written screenplays of the year and exceptional acting by the entire cast. Peter Gallagher and Andie MacDowell play a blissfully married couple, though blissfully in the “ignorance is bliss” meaning of the word. She is in therapy to get over her sexual inhibitions, while he is having an affair with her sexy sister (Laura San Giacomo), and then in comes James Spader, an old school friend of Gallagher’s, who moves in nearby and turns out to have a few secrets of his own. Spader, it is revealed, is impotent, and can only get sexually aroused when watching the many videotapes he’s made of women confessing their wildest fantasies and experiences. The interaction of these characters features incredibly well written dialogue that takes the place of any physical exhibition of sexuality, the performances bringing it all to life with incredible reality. Spader is at his most enigmatic, MacDowell at her most intense and fascinating.
The Criterion Collection: #938
Academy Award Nomination: Best Original Screenplay
Cannes Film Festival Awards: Palme D’Or; Best Actor (James Spader)
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Actress-Drama (Andie MacDowell); Best Supporting Actress (Laura San Giacomo); Best Screenplay