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23 September, 2005

Review: 'Tape' (2001)

Sometimes, one can discover a good film, book or album 'cold', knowing nothing whatsoever about it and hence avoiding all hype.  It's difficult to believe now, but for me, 'The Matrix' was one; when I first saw it at the cinema, I had no prior knowledge or expectations, so was blown away from the opening shot.

Another, somewhat less extreme, example was 'Tape', a film shown on TV on Wednesday. I hadn't heard of it, didn't know it was on, and only stopped flicking through the channels because I consider Ethan Hawke to be a fairly compelling actor.

It's a rather minimalist film, shot on digital video (hence, it looked more like a TV drama than a typical Hollywood film), set entirely in one motel room, and featuring only three actors: Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard and Uma Thurman. It's based on a stage play, and felt like it. If the camera angles hadn't changed (disorientatingly, on occasion), it could have been a stage play.
The acting was good, and emotions were generally conveyed subtly, but, much like a traditional stage play, it was a little heavy on exposition, and I can imagine some would find it too verbose to be realistic. Then again, it is about a conversation between two old friends, with a third joining them halfway through.

I won't ruin it by summarising the plot, but various themes were explored, such as how much (and little) people change with time, and how perceptions/memories of events differ, a subjectivity which ultimately leaves the audience ignorant of the true story.

If this one 'slipped below your radar' too, I'd recommend it.

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