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sex, lies, and videotape (1989) is the finest depiction of sexual repression you are ever likely to see. The story concerns four people in their early 30’s.
John Mulaney, an up-and-coming lawyer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a confident go-getter and an enthusiastic philanderer. His wife, Ann, however, is a prudish bundle of nerves. She has regular therapy sessions in which she describes her various obsessions and the problems in her marriage. Her biggest marital problem, though, is the one she knows nothing about.
That problem concerns John and Ann’s sister, Cynthia Bishop. Cynthia is Ann’s exact opposite, a free spirit who lets nothing stand in the way of physical pleasure. The sisters barely get along: the one frequently expressing her disapproval and the other frequently expressing her disdain.
The film opens with Ann complaining to her therapist that John had – without consulting her first – invited his old college buddy Graham Dalton to visit them. Graham is independently wealthy. He’s a semi-nomad, crisscrossing America by car. Despite his wealth he leads an ascetic lifestyle, wishing to get by with as few possessions as possible.
Graham has all the advantages. He’s intelligent, handsome, rich and charming. But he’s undergone many changes since his student days with John. For one thing, he now has even more deep-seated psychological problems than Ann. His sudden arrival in Baton Rouge starts a chain of events which drastically affects how the other three people see themselves and how they relate to each other.