Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. 100
    A movie of prodigious power and feeling that is also high-spirited, hilarious and scorchingly erotic.
  2. The kind of picture to whip out the clichés for: Surprisingly original. Delightful. Brilliant. Funny as all heck. When 1989 is through, sex, lies, and videotape may well be remembered as the best film of the year. [11 Aug 1989, Daily Datebook, p.E1]
  3. Reviewed by: Wendy Bristow
    100
    Startling is the fact that a film so light on action and heavy on chat can be so achingly funny without having being crafted by a young Woody Allen.
  4. 100
    Electrifying… As writer, director and editor, [Soderbergh’s] control is mesmerizing. It's also more than a little creepy; as though Soderbergh were drawing us, a step at a time, into a warm pool where intimate secrets flowed back and forth as simply as currents of water. [4 Aug 1989, Calendar, p.6-1]
  5. Reviewed by: Caryn James
    100
    Astonishing... One of the freshest American films of the decade. [4 Aug 1989]
  6. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    100
    What amazes is that at just 26, Soderbergh displays the three qualities associated with mature filmmakers: a unique authorial voice, a spooky camera assurance, and the easy control of ensemble acting. [31 July 1989, p.65]
  7. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    100
    A sexy, nuanced, beautifully controlled examination of how a quartet of people are defined by their erotic impulses and inhibitions.
  8. Soderbergh is helped enormously by the interplay of his actors, whom he has cast like a master... [He makes] a film that goes past what it shows to disclose what can't be seen. It's a fine achievement. [4 Sept 1989, p.26]
  9. 90
    What "The Big Chill" was to baby boomers, the inspirational sex, lies, and videotape is to the mall crowd. It's designer soul-searching, a looking glass for a generation.
  10. 88
    It has more intelligence than heart, and is more clever than enlightening. But it is never boring, and there are moments when it reminds us of how sexy the movies used to be, back in the days when speech was an erogenous zone.
  11. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    88
    Twenty years ago, you could view early works of big-splash directors and often tell where they were coming from - or going. Yet Soderbergh and his debut project are mysteries. What can possibly come next? You won't be able to drag me out of line opening night. [4 Aug 1989, Life, p.1D]
  12. Cunningly scripted and acted, and talky in the best sense, the film is engrossing to watch but not especially interesting to ponder afterward; it's certainly an improvement on formulaic Hollywood, but on a thematic level there's still more windup than delivery.
  13. 75
    Sex, lies, and videotape discovers a distinctive, laconic rhythm right from the start, thanks to Soderbergh's taste for holding his shots just a bit longer than conventional, slick editing technique would allow. [11 Aug 1989, Friday, p.A]
  14. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    75
    Compulsively watchable.
  15. Reviewed by: Staff (Non Credited)
    70
    Beautifully edited by Soderbergh, the film is evenly paced, its subtleties accreting slowly, and by the end it gathers powerful emotional momentum.
  16. The writer in Soderbergh proves the ultimate weak link. In sex, lies' last third, he seems seized with a compulsion to make sense of it all, bring everything to bear, give everyone their moral comeuppance, their screenplay payoff.
  17. The first half is full of verbal and visual surprises, but the later scenes are talky and dull, as if filmmaker Steven Soderbergh had lost interest in his subject and his characters. Which would be understandable, since the story often seems more calculated than heartfelt. [4 Aug 1989, Arts, p.10]
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 33 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 9
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 9
  3. Negative: 2 out of 9
  1. Aug 27, 2010
    9
    It doesn't necessarily bring anything new to the table, but provides an interesting look at sex and relationships and all the kinks in between the two. You have to give director Steven Soderbergh credit for making a movie that focuses completely on sex without having any actual sex scenes (or even nudity). It's also nice to see a film that deals with the subject matter so maturely without having to get Woody Allen involved. Full Review »
  2. MarkR.
    Aug 24, 2009
    10
    One of the best films I've ever seen. almost twenty years old and has lost none of its erotic and intellectual impact.
  3. NachoC.
    Jul 20, 2009
    10
    Wow. Soderbergh stop making big budget films, come back to writing solid screenplays and drawing the best out of actors. SLV was a fantastic film, highly recommended. Full Review »