Projections - Movie Reviews



Although Richard Linklater's Walking Life is a sparkling cinematic breakthrough, his film making talents are alive and well in the live-action, close-knit three character film, Tape.

The film's title comes into play as the film's sad subject of date rape comes to the foreground.  But this digitally shot movie has the feeling on an intimate teleplay, maybe one corner of Mike Figgis' Timecode.

Linklater draws from Stephen Belber's play and the setting is a hotel room in Michigan with two of the three characters meeting in a high school reunion of sorts.

John is played by Robert Sean Leonard (Dead Poets Society) and Vince is a stoned fireman, done with a sense of rebelliousness by Ethan Hawke (Snow Falling on Cedars, Great Expectations).  John is a film-maker with one of his films being showcased in the opening of the Lansing Film Festival and he gets up to speed with his old friend in the first part of Tape.

Vince is a party animal who is first seen scantily clad and probably needing to shape up his life as his latest relationship ended because all his loser ways have made him abusive.

Tape makes a persuasive turn in this grungy room with Vince's ability to get John to reveal what he did some ten years ago with some "excessive linguistic pressure."  It had to do with a girl named Amy who was Vince's first high school love and not a willing partner.  John thinks that she probably forgot about it as he vowed never to act in the despicable way again.

An edge and conflict has been subtly set in motion as Amy lives close by and is coming to visit, so it could be the time for John to reconcile with her about the past.

Uma Thurman (Hawke's real life wife as Amy), adds more dimension than expected as Linklater puts a wrinkle in the neat dynamic set up by James Toback in Two Girls and a Guy.

She wonders what's going on and feels threatened enough to almost call the police.  Tape gradually unveils the torment surrounding these three almost to the effect of a more adult Breakfast Club in a small, unkempt classroom.  Linklater works deftly with his characters who are nearing 30, though his intimate manners let the spontaneity get the better of the unsettling, sometimes witty situations.

Hawke, Leonard and Thurman are up to the task of this creative experiment with high definition video.  Linklater lets the hand-held camera sometimes add striking artistic moments that make one feel like an eavesdropper.  Thus, with some pretentiousness, Tape has some dark ironies that are presented with truth and humor as the lives of two guys and a girl become much more than a high school reunion.


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