Tape

"Weak"

Tape Review


Another quickie guerrilla movie spawn of the digital video age, "Tape" is a real-time, three-character drama shot on the cheap in a hotel room by director Richard Linklater, who made such an awesome impact last month with the experimental animated philosophy daze of "Waking Life".

It's a movie that can work only if its characters hold you rapt for its entire run time -- and it might have done just that if said characters weren't so uniformly abrasive.

Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard play former high school buddies both in Lansing, Michigan, for a weekend. Leonard is there because he's an upstart filmmaker, convinced he's struggling for his art, whose first movie is playing the Lansing Film Festival. Hawke, a violent, drunk stoner with a chip on his shoulder, is ostensibly there as moral support, but in reality he has an entirely different agenda. He's never gotten over the fact that 10 years ago his high school girlfriend slept with Leonard. Now he has an ax to grind and a captive audience.

From the get-go it's clear these two guys have a relationship based on provocation, and it isn't long before Hawke is asking pointed questions about "that night" when Leonard took his girlfriend to bed. It takes him a while to get to the point, but when he does it's tantamount to an accusation of rape -- an accusation Leonard fails to dispel to Hawke's satisfaction.

"It was just something that got a little out of hand," he insists.

Hawke pushes on, forcing something resembling a confession out of his old friend -- just about the time the girl in question (Uma Thurman) turns up at the door of their room. It seems she lives in Lansing and Hawke contrived this meeting to watch Leonard squirm as some kind of catharsis for his immature psyche.

As the room becomes viscous with tension, Linklater's hand-held vérité, seat-of-his-pants style serves the story well (even if the wild camera movements induce motion sickness at times). But the one-room structure (adapted from a one-act play by Stephen Belber) almost single-handedly sinks the film because the more uncomfortable the situation becomes, the more you wonder why none of the characters don't just up and leave.

Hawke, Leonard and Thurman give what feel like under-defined performances of practiced "improvisation," which contributes to the problem. Leonard, for example, gives the impression that his character feels compelled to stay, but what it is that compels him is frustratingly unclear.

Thurman soon realizes there is emotional collusion afoot. But while she doesn't much care for the company of these two former boyfriends or their unfinished business, she not only sticks around but also ups the ante by playing head games of her own.

Eventually the behavior of all three characters degenerates to the point that you might start thinking, "Well, if none of them are going to leave, I will."

"Tape" -- the title refers to Hawke's surreptitiously recording Leonard's "confession" -- is not uninvolving or badly executed (for a film shot in six days). But it's hard to get wrapped up in a story when half the time you're second-guessing the characters' actions and imagining something smarter you'd have done in their position.



Tape

Facts and Figures

Run time: 86 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th July 2002

Box Office Worldwide: $490.5 thousand

Budget: $100 thousand

Distributed by: Lions Gate Releasing

Production compaines: The Independent Film Channel Productions, Detour Filmproduction, IFC Productions, InDigEnt (Independent Digital Entertainment), Tape Productions Inc.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 76 Rotten: 22

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Amy Randall, as Vince, as Jon Salter

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.