35 years of Sex, Lies and Video: “It’s worrying to see how television has invaded our culture”

In 1989, Steven Soderbergh and Andie McDowell talked about their Palme d'Or in Première. Flashback.

On this Monday, May 20, 2024, everything brings us back to Sex, lies and video. Margaret Qualley, daughter of one of the main actresses in the film Steven Soderbergh, Andie MacDowellhas just caused a sensation thanks to The Substanceby Coralie Fargeat, a “body horror movie” which seems well on its way to returning from this 77th edition with rewards. And why not the Palme d’Or?

Just 35 years ago, it was Steven Soderbergh who left the Cannes Film Festival with this trophy, for his film directed by McDowell, but also James Spader – who also won the best actor prize this year. that year-, Peter Gallagher and Laura San Giacomo.

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At the end of 2021, we published a long analysis of this work in Premiere Classics (No. 17). We are sharing a few extracts to wait until the rebroadcast of Sex, lies and videothis evening on France 4. Note that the film is also visible in replay, for free on the France.TV websiteuntil July 31.

To begin with, we compared the reception of this 1989 Palme d'Or to that of Titaniumby Julia Ducournau, received in 2021.

Those who criticized Titanium of Julia Ducournau its messy appearance hardly in keeping with the idea they had of a Palme d'Or, let's review together Sex, lies and video by the young Steven Soderbergh, winner of the 1989 edition, a film that is certainly tighter, but which shares with the car mentioned above the same desire to shake up standards.

Where the Frenchwoman elbows her way to make room and make herself heard, The American questioned more calmly about the flagging desire of devitalized characters who had to be brought back to life, in the process attacking an American cinema which would no longer beat at the right tempo. Here as there, it is a question of “monsters” which take flesh (and dearly!), enter the frame to devour it from the inside. “Imperfection” supposed of their respective work speaks for them and the mood swings of the story extract a living material lurking in the shadows to project it into full light. An image is by nature immodest and displayed to the highest bidder. Ducournau and Soderbergh each make puppet bodies dance.”

Steven Soderbergh wrote a sequel to Sex, Lies and Video during confinement

“The notion of image remains the great business of Sex, lies and video, we also wrote about this unique work of its kind. Since it is through its production – or rather its recording – that the hero played by James Spader, prostrate in front of a TV watching young women that he himself filmed, manages to experience pleasure again.

In 1989, it is not so much the question of sexual identity or that of gender that concerns Soderbergh as the way in which a youth who has just entered the adult world clings to a dull reality at the expense of his dreams. To be, not to be, is more or less the same thing. For its author, it is very different. Steven Soderbergh was 26 years old – and still had hair – when he went to the Cannes podium, making him, still today, the youngest winner in history. He was nothing and today he is the guardian of his night's sleep (and ours too).”


This is the actress Andie MacDowell, a young model, best known for having appeared in Greystoke, the legend of Tarzan by Hugh Hudson (1984), of which she has very bad memories (she was dubbed by Glenn Close to make it more British!), who is the first in the adventure. Soderbergh who thought he saw a young and pretty girl arriving, not a tragedian for a penny, “falls backwards” at the end of the tests.

“What I like about the film is the fact that I don't play a woman who is too beautiful, she confided in First during this 42nd Cannes edition. I'm just a totally real, authentic person. For me, it was a real challenge to make this as fair as possible, and if I succeeded, it means that I won my bet.”

Still in the columns of Firstthis is what the young filmmaker said at the very end of the 1980s about what pushed him to create this film.

“Video seems to me to be taking on greater and greater importance in our society. It is worrying to see how television has invaded our culture and our daily lives. It is to such an extent that, when we have seen something television, we often have the impression of having lived it…”

To read our complete file on Sex, lies and video, go to the kiosks. The film is also available on VOD on First Max :

Andie MacDowell and Laura San Giacomo set for the sequel to Sex, Lies and Video


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