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Tape (2001)

  Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Stephen Belber
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Uma Thurman
Links: Tape on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Tape (2001) is also mentioned in em_fiction's review of Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) and pearly's review of School of Rock (2003).

"Coulda been better" - a review by pearly

In Tape, a guy named Vince (Ethan Hawke) heads to Michigan to catch up with his best friend from high school Jon (Robert Sean Leonard). Vince and Jon catch up each year, but this year, Vince has a little more than the usual dinner planned. He prompts Jon to start talking about an incident in their past, an incident involving Amy (Uma Thurman), which he records onto tape.

Tape is set entirely in the hotel room which Vince is staying in. It has more of a start-to-finish plot than his previous effort (Waking Life), and is therefore more accessible, but its nature will still limit its appeal. It seems obvious that this was a play that was adapted little before being turned into this movie (from the single location to the fact that there are no bells and whistles - it is essentially just two or three people talking for an hour and a half).

Essentially, it's a character development piece - its focus is the interactions between people, and a view of different people's perceptions on an event that they have all experienced. Linklater's style means that the event is not seen from a third person view after seeing each person's opinion on how it went - it's just left for the viewer to piece it together. All three actors do a tremendous job with the script, and given that I've read that the whole thing was filmed in 6 days, that's a pretty impressive effort.

The style gives the viewer credit by not hand-holding them throughout the experience, but it does mean that the narrative needs to be carefully structured. What I found with Tape was that by not knowing exactly what went on in the character's past, I was left feeling like an outsider. It was almost like eavesdropping on a conversation that someone is having on a mobile phone, where you only hear half of what's going on.

This could have worked well - it could leave you wondering about it for days afterward, and making up your own mind about exactly what had happened. The philosophical discussions in Waking Life achieved this. But with Tape, something was definitely lacking, and it didn't leave me wanting to think about what was going on, it just left me scratching my head.

pearly gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 27 Oct 2003

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