sex, lies and videotape (1989)
Steven Soderbergh's hailed first feature is a poetic and gloomy investigation of the three concepts in the title explicitly, and of the dysfunctional emotional lives of the four leads implicitly. The film feels European and New Wavish, something which gives it timelessness, and explains quite a lot of the initial buzz at the time of release; sex, lies and videotape is far removed from the 1980s and anything made in American film during the decade. Remarkably, it has one of the Brat Pack's lurking younger brothers, James Spader, in the thematic lead - and what a delightful, enigmatic turn he gives, deliciously erotic and persistently untrustworthy in essence. The real secret behind Soderbergh's intelligent story, besides the continuously interesting interpersonal aspects, is the unresolved ambiguity of the Spader character. Is he John's healthy, sensitive counterpart, or is he a wolf in sheep's clothing? That, argues Soderbergh, is the perpetual ambivalence of relationships.