Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tape (2001 film)

Directed by Richard Linklater and written by Stephen Belber from his play, Tape is the story of two old friends meeting at motel where an old girlfriend appears accusing one of them of raping her several years ago. Told in real-time, the film explores the sins of the past as well as the idea about remorse. Starring Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and Uma Thurman. Tape is a provocative yet engaging film from Richard Linklater.

The film revolves around a reunion between two old high school friends in the high-strung drug dealer Vince (Ethan Hawke) and the filmmaker Jon (Robert Sean Leonard) where the latter is attending a film festival where he’s set to premiere his new film. The two talk about their love lives including a relationship with an old girlfriend named Amy (Uma Thurman) where Vince tricks Jon into telling a story about what he did to Amy as Vince finally calls Amy. Amy eventually arrives to tell her side of the story where truths are blurred. Set in one night at a motel room in Michigan, the film plays into the idea of truth and fiction where it all plays into what happened one night that ruined not just the friendship of these two men but also the sins they committed in the past.

Stephen Belber’s screenplay is told in real-time where it plays into the intensity of this discussion about rape as well as who is telling the truth and who is lying. Instigating everything is Vince who was Amy’s boyfriend but the two had broken up before high school ended where she went out with Jon. Vince is carrying a grudge towards Jon as he tries to blackmail him only to get into trouble with Amy to see who is really more remorseful for their actions. Jon isn’t sure if he really did something while Amy’s appearance only blurs things as the screenplay is filled with very fast, talkative dialogue to play out the emotions and intensity of the conversations.

Richard Linklater’s direction is very intimate in the way he shoots the film in one entire place for its entire duration where there’s also an element of claustrophobia. Since it does have this air of theatricality, Linklater employs a very loose, hand-held shooting style to capture some of the drama where it would intensify as the story progresses. A lot of the shots include some close-ups and some stylized angles while Linklater just keeps things simple and to the point without needing a film score with the exception of Brenda Lee’s I’m Sorry in the final credits. Still, Linklater creates an atmosphere in the drama while putting his actors in the frame to play out the emotions in these conversations. Overall, Linklater creates a dazzling yet entrancing film about truths and lies.

Cinematographer Maryse Alberti does brilliant work with the film‘s grainy yet tinted digital camera look to create something that feels intimate but also stark in terms of the things that are being discussed. Editor Sandra Adair does excellent work with the editing to play out some of the conversation with rhythmic cuts as well as the drama where it would intensify. Production designer Stephen Beatrice and set decorator Christopher P. Peroni do nice work with the look of the motel room that Vince stays in to showcase his troubled lifestyle as well as the claustrophobia it brings out. Costume designer Catherine Marie Thomas does nice work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual with the exception of the suit that Jon wears. Sound editor Ira Spiegel does superb work with the sound to play out the intimacy of the setting as well as some of the intense moments involving Vince’s antics.

The film’s small cast is fantastic as its trio of actors each give remarkable performances. Uma Thurman’s performance as Amy is one that is full of wit but also one that is shady about whether she really knows the truth or is she just trying to see how can give in and be remorseful. Robert Sean Leonard as Jon is very engaging for the way he tries to admit about his wrongdoings and flaws as a man where he’s also the film’s conscience of sorts in trying to just do things right and not have everything go wrong. Ethan Hawke’s performance as Vince is definitely one of Hawke’s most wild performances as a high-strung man who is so un-likeable in his actions and comments on everything that Hawke brings a lot of charisma and energy into his performance.

Tape is a marvelous film from Richard Linklater that features superb performances from Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and Uma Thurman. The film is a very smart yet provocative piece about the sins of the past as well as the idea of truth and lies. It’s also a film that doesn’t play to conventionality by keeping things simple in its minimalist presentation. In the end, Tape is a wonderful film from Richard Linklater.

Richard Linklater Films: It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books - Slacker - Dazed & Confused - Before Sunrise - subUrbia - The Newton Boys - Waking Life - School of Rock - Before Sunset - Bad News Bears (2005 film) - A Scanner Darkly - Fast Food Nation - Me and Orson Welles - Bernie (2011 film) - Before Midnight - Boyhood - Everybody Want Some!! - The Auteurs #57: Richard Linklater Pt. 1 - Pt. 2

© thevoid99 2013


Alex Withrow said...

So damn happy you enjoyed this one. You're right, Tape is provocative as hell. A master combination of script, direction, and acting.

thevoid99 said...

It's definitely an experimental film that is accessible while just being very confrontational as I think it's one of Linklater's finest works.

3guys1movie.com said...

Linklater and and Hawke? Where can I check this one out? Did you watch this one streaming somewhere?

thevoid99 said...

@3guys1movie.com-I don't know where you can see it. I wrote this review based on stuff from my old review (that I deleted) where I was able to remember some things about the film. It's been a very long time since I've seen it.