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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Tape

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman
Director: Richard Linklater
Rated: NR
RunTime: 86 Minutes
Release Date: November 2001
Genre: Drama

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

TAPE is a dark comedy/drama about date rape that features three brilliant performances by Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard and Uma Thurman. The story, which happens in real-time, is based on Stephen Belber's play, which is not surprising. Viewing the movie, you feel less like you're watching a film and more like you're at an award-winning Broadway play with a killer cast.

With an IN THE COMPANY MEN intensity, the movie is a lot more than just the discussion of a date-rape that may or may not have happened ten years ago. It's also about friendship, honesty and the meaning of life. Directed by Richard Linklater, the film is another talkfest like his BEFORE SUNRISE, a personal favorite of mine. (This picture is much better than his overrated WAKING LIFE, also in current release.)

The beauty of TAPE is that you're never quite sure where it is going, and you're certainly not sure how its central issue will be resolved. A seemingly simple story, it evolves into something of a mystery as key revelations are made and reactions are noted.

Set entirely in a rundown motel room at the ironically named Motor Palace in Lansing, Michigan, the movie opens with 28-year-old buddies, Vince (Hawke) and John (Leonard), making small talk, trying to catch-up on the years since they have seen each other last. Vince is a loser and a literally two-fisted drinker who makes a living dealing drugs. His lack of success might be attributable in part to his consuming his own product since, between double beers, he smokes pot and snorts cocaine. A motor mouth, Vince can't keep his mouth or his body at rest. Like a 6-year-old, he bounces across the beds. He is such an obnoxious guy that it's hard to see why John would have accepted his offer to meet again.

John, on the other hand, is a filmmaker with a potentially bright future. A graduate of the prestigious USC film school, he's in town for a film festival, where his new film is to be shown. Although it would appear that Vince is the one with a disreputable life, he, nevertheless, gets John to talk about a possible sexual incident that happened ten years ago with Amy (Thurman). Vince wants John to tell him all of the sordid details. "Show me the dailies," Vince says, speaking John's language. About all that John wants to confess is that he might have "applied excessive linguistic pressure" on Amy to have sex with him.

The men go around and around arguing with each other until you start to get tired of their circular arguments. The story is ratcheted up a notch when Amy drops by the room to have a prearranged dinner with Vince. From that point on, prepare to stay on the edge of your seat as their initially awkward conversation starts heading in some pretty intriguing directions. I can't remember. Did I mention her job yet? She's an assistant district attorney.

TAPE runs 1:25. It is rated R for "language and drug content" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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