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4 reviews, 16 user ratings

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by Dennis Swennumson

"A nice exercise in digital filmmaking."
3 stars

Anyone tired of big-budget action extravaganzas should see Tape. Directed by Richard Linklater and quickly released after his masterpiece Waking Life in 2001, Tape is as simple as you can get production wise. However on the acting front, probably one of the most difficult projects all three actors involved will ever experience. Tape is the story of three old friends reuniting long after high school has ended, discussing those last days in a motel room unable to leave for one reason or another.

Three characters, in a motel room, talking is all that Tapeis. For a movie like this, the acting has to be top notch and whatever they are talking about had better be interesting. Ethan Hawke plays Vince, the least successful of the trio, a volunteer firefighter (honorable) and small-time drug dealer (not so honorable). His character is very animated and basically bouncing off the walls, normally this sort of thing would be humorous in a Jim Carrey or Jack Black movie, but this sort of character is rarely funny, but the general purpose of Vince is effective in whole mix of things.

Robert Sean Leonard portrays Jon, who has invited Vince to town for the debut screening of his first movie in a film festival the next day. Tape starts to get interesting when Vince starts to reveal his hidden agenda for the trip, to discover what really happened between Jon and Amy (Uma Thurman) in a relationship in the last weeks before graduation. Why does Vince care so much? Amy had just gotten out of a relationship with Vince when she started seeing Jon. In what seems to be a showcase for Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman's acting skills, Robert Sean Leonard outshines them both.

For most of its 86-minute runtime, it's just Jon and Vince in the motel room discussing the film, each other's lives, and the sensitive nature of Jon and Amy's relationship. Most of the dialogue is enough to keep one interested, but sometimes it borders on redundancy and sometimes annoyance. When something needs to be said, or a question needs to be answered, writer Stephen Belber (adapting his stage play for the screen) sometimes beats around the bush a little too much, but with a topic as touchy as what is discussed in the film (I will not reveal it here), people would naturally avoid the straight-forward questioning of Vince, and his methods of persuasion.

Tape is an interesting character study and respectable for the small production, three actors, one set and a digital camera. What interested me the most was that Tape was edited on a Mac, using Final Cut Pro. Vince, Jon and Amy are all interesting in their roles, Amy seems a bit under-used but still is as important as Jon and Vince.

I understand what Linklater and cast were trying to do with this film, and it is well executed for the most part, but for some reason I felt that this was a project to stroke the egos of husband-and-wife Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, trying to prove something that doesn't need to be proven.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4863&reviewer=338
originally posted: 05/04/03 03:14:52
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User Comments

8/05/09 Caroline Total crap. Terribly slow and a total waste of time. 1 stars
11/30/08 Roz An interesting movie. 4 stars
11/23/05 billie456 Great little arthouse piece, but the camera stunts were sometimes distracting 4 stars
10/22/04 BB Great acting, ditto dialogue, but more of a play than cinema 4 stars
6/25/04 L 3 actors, 1 lone movie scene in a lower-end motel room, low budget but HIGH quality film! 5 stars
12/28/03 Phil M. Aficionado I agree with Dust For Eyes review; plus Uma is a pleasant relief; not enjoyable or inspired 2 stars
6/04/03 Picky critic Great tension throughout. Really keeps your attention. 5 stars
5/13/03 Anthony Worall-T Great film- self conciously stagy and amateur, Sean-Leonard is cool 5 stars
11/24/02 Colin Selby Somebody needs to remove their head from their arse 1 stars
11/23/02 Joe Zappa Dark, but has a good message. Hawke is great, Linklater is pretty good. 3 stars
6/08/02 Butt Don't pass it up. 4 stars
5/28/02 The Bomb 69 interesting to see how man and women interpret things differently 4 stars
4/19/02 natasha the story unfolds in a compelling way and the acting is amazing 4 stars
12/05/01 Isabelle Fournier More worthless crap! Pathetic people fall for it! 1 stars
11/19/01 Film Connoissieur Tape is kick-ass - a Roshomon for the new G 5 stars
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  02-Nov-2001 (R)



Directed by
  Richard Linklater

Written by
  Stephen Belber

  Ethan Hawke
  Robert Sean Leonard
  Uma Thurman

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