After ten years apart three desperate people come together to play out the unresolved drama of their final days in high school. As years of denial slowly peel away each is provoked into revealing their true nature. Studio... more »: Lions Gate Home Ent. Release Date: 07/20/2004 Starring: Ethan Hawke Robert Sean Leonard Run time: 83 minutes Rating: R« less
A suspenseful, superbly acted piece of 'Motel Hell'
M. Burns | Columbus, Ohio | 06/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Alright, I'll just let it fly right now: I don't think I've seen a movie since Dead Poet's Society in which Ethan Hawke doesn't kinda blow. He's not so believable in Linklater's Before Sunrise, got undeserved acclaim for Training Day, and pretty much destroys the art of acting in Taking Lives. So it was a nice surprise to see him not suck after Linklater's fascinating, superbly acted (holy crap, I just said that about an Ethan Hawke movie) Tape, which needs about 20 minutes to get its look-at-me-I'm-a-badass-indie-film-shot-on-DV-with-cool-angles attitude out of its system. But after that, whoa boy. The film takes place entirely in a low-rent motel room where Hawke is staying; his high school pal, played by the underappreciated Robert Sean Leonard (the guy who blew his brains out in DPS), drops by and before you know it, it's less high school reunion and more Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. You see, Hawke's Vince exposes a secret from Leonard's Jon's past and a cunning game of psychological hot potato begins. What impressed me the most about Tape is how it defied my expectations at every point that the movie turned - there are more twists in it than a Hollywood thriller, and the movie becomes so engrossing at points that interest becomes giddiness. But the best thing about Tape is how well its actors (including Uma Thurman, who drops by in a pivotal role) navigate the facial and verbal expressions that would accompany such an encounter. For a low-budget indie that could have been pretentious and silly, this movie is so well-nuanced and executed it'll have you clamoring for more in its all-too-brief 84 minutes. GRADE: B+"
F. Gentile | Lake Worth, Florida, United States | 10/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't have much of anything witty to say about this film, I can only say that it is one of those rare films where the superb acting just keeps you transfixed. This movie about three high school friends of ten years prior, who have some very unresolved issues, takes place in just one hotel room. It is so real that you feel like an eavesdropper. I really can't stand about 95% of the movies made in the last 15 years, with very few exceptions. I don't "get" the stars. I am SO sick of Tom Cruise's, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson's, and Julia Roberts trademark smirks and quirks (aren't we CUTE?"!) that they have marketed into ridiculously lucrative careers of boring movies that are interchangeable and unmemorable. I tend to put all the actors of today down. Watching Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Robert Sean Leonard, as in this fim, makes me realize that I am sometimes wrong in my summation about the actors of today. They are so astoundingly real, that I can't honestly be objective about the storyline of this film, because I was so impressed by their performances. They are among the best actors of today. I recently discovered Uma Thurman, later than everyone else, in "Hysterical Blindness" on HBO, and was just amazed at her performance. I happened upon that film, as with this one, by accident. That she not only stars in this film, but, co-stars with such an incredible actor, Ethan Hawke, who also happens to be her husband, well, let's just say that it's a most wonderful discovery for me. It drew me in in the first minute, and, never let go until the end. I realize that these actors have all been around for a while, and certainly I am "late" in discovering their talents. I guess I need to open myself up to some more recent flicks. It's just that, when I do, they are almost always just plain lousy. These three actors make this film one of those rare occurrences of being overwhelmed by real, unaffected talent. There is not a hint that they are "acting." What a pleasure to, finally, observe art, not just phony box-office garbage. I could drone on and on, just repeating myself, so, I'll stop. I just highly recommend this movie to anyone who is as hungry as I am for an intelligent, non-special effects, skilled film that totally involves you. I really need to watch it again, as I was so caught up in their portrayals, I'm sure there's some things I missed. I am now a "fan" of these actors, if you want to call me that. But, I don't want to know anything about their personal lives. I don't want to watch them on "Entertainment Tonight" or read about them in "People" magazine. I just want to experience the pleasure of their talent, and I look forward to their future works with anticipation."
Motel room ignites past...
A. Gyurisin | Wet, Wild, Wonderful Virginia | 01/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film took me two days to decide whether I liked it or not. When the final credits rolled, rather creatively at that, I couldn't figure out if this was pure brilliance on the part of Richard Linklater, or if it was nothing more than a group of friends trying to make an independent film. I could not decide. I even listened to the audio commentary of Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater to see if I could capture their mood of the film to hopefully influence mine. While it was a very interesting audio commentary, it only provided more indecisiveness. After thinking about this for two days, I finally thought about it long enough and realized that if a film makes you think for two days after viewing, there has to be something spectacular about it, and there was. After two days I was able to put my finger on it. You had a very chilling story, a deeply disturbing confession, a powerhouse of acting by Robert Sean Leonard and Uma Thurman, and then there was Ethan Hawke. I put him aside because it was his acting, his portrayal of Vince that took away the inches of film that nearly made it into perfection. Let me explain.
This is a story, that on the surface seems small, is very large in structure. While its only setting is inside a motel room, the written word by Stephen Belber transforms this into a thrilling drama about past lives and future consequences. From the opening scene of Hawke throwing his beers into the motel door until the final dramatic conclusion where Vince is caught up in the web of his own lies, we never really know anything about him. Leonard talks briefly about what he is doing and why he is currently single, but we never really get to know Ethan's character. This is what muddled in my mind for those two days, I continually had to ask myself who Vince really was. Was he a friend trying to help Leonard with a guilty conscious, or was he on the side of Amy trying to give her the conclusion that she wanted. Who knows? I think I needed more structure with Ethan's Vince. We needed more from Linklater to help us understand this self-appointed villain, or even more from Ethan to reveal his ultimate purpose. Instead, what occurred was Ethan just jumping around being annoying with no purpose except what you could hear Linklater telling him. Here is what I could hear: "Ok, Ethan, your purpose in this scene is to ensure that Leonard doesn't leave, do whatever it takes". Ethan takes this direction and adds a couple of swear words and uses screaming to keep him in the room instead of countering with more plot. Does this make sense? I felt like I knew why Leonard and Thurman were there in that room, but WHY Ethan was bringing them together was never told. I know that perhaps it was left up to the viewer, but this story needed a hint. It needed to provide some reasoning for the situation. I felt Ethan held us back from learning that. Someone else in the role may have done better, but Ethan just felt lost and stagy.
As I said before, Leonard and Thurman really carried this film on their shoulders. I was impressed to see Leonard taking such heavy work, but his true acting ability really came forth. The same goes for Uma who successfully took the idea of "husband and wife" away while working with Ethan. I was concerned that it would be a factor in Tape, but luckily these two were able to keep their characters separate. The chemistry that Leonard and Thurman had on screen was shattering. I found myself holding my breath during their parts from both emotion and the tension that they created. Outside of Ethan, they did a great job.
The story was a very tight story. I loved being brought into the middle of this controversy and seeing that a world can be created and destroyed in a hotel room. I thought that concept was a hard one to tackle, but Stephen Belber (who also wrote the play) did a fantastic job of eliminating the corporate element and giving us the pure human drama that exists between these characters. Linklater likewise really pulls this film together well by keeping the tensions high and elaborate as our characters progress through the phases of this predicament. The only trouble I had with Linklater's direction deals with his swirling camera. Whenever two people were talking to each other we found ourselves swirling between the two instead of using one large shot or quick cuts. I thought this was annoying at times, and quite dizzying. It detracted from the words that the actors were speaking and from the impact of the story. That is my only critique of Linklater's direction, which was nearly flawless.
Overall, this was an impressive and very intense drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat due to its strong reality and human element. It took me a while for me to realize this, and will probably take some time for it to sink into your mind, but that is the nature of this film. It is created to leave this lasting impression on your mind and to haunt your mind during your next visit with friends. I think Linklater did an excellent job with the material that he was handed, proving that his work could be compared to early Cameron Crowe material. Leonard and Thurman explode onto the scene, while Hawke leaves a bit more to be desired. I do believe that Linklater should have considered another actor for his role. Either way, this was a great film that took away the classic Hollywood backdrop and gave us nothing but 100% pure acting.
Grade: **** out of *****"
'Tape' = Linklater at his Best
James R. Louison | San Francisco, CA USA | 04/13/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If there could be a number eleven on my top ten films of 2001, this would be it. This claustrophobic film, based on Stphen Belbar's Off-Broadway play, features dynamite acting, icluding Gen-X actor and recent Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke's best performance EVER!
Set in a hotel room, 'Tape' revolves around three high school friends(Mr. Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Robert Sean Leonard) who come togther once again ten years after graduating from school and saying goodbye to each other.
The film heats up when an accusation is made: A drug dealer(Hawke) blames his best friend(Leonard)of raping his high school girlfriend and the love of his life(Thurman). You'll have to find out if it is true or not by watching, because my lips are sealed.
Performances like Mr. Hawke's make you wonder if he got his Oscar nod for the wrong movie. Plus, this film has a killer ending. So get off your ass, go to Borders.com, and order 'Tape' today! -James R. Louison"
Victoria | United States | 08/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow. Ok, so that is a pathetic way to start a movie review. But my god, what a movie. Tape is directed by Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Waking Life) and stars Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and Uma Thurman. They are the only cast members of the film and the entire feature takes place in a single motel room. The film was shot on digital and the opening sequences had me dreading yet another movie that is to showcase the direction and film quality with no real plot. I could not have been more wrong. There are very few films that can be carried merely by the dialogue of the actors. Tape is one of them. As the credits started rolling, both my husband and I were sitting in awe with our mouths hanging open. And the amazing thing is, while I knew what was happening and even predicted the ending, I was still completely captivated as I watched it unravel.It's very realistic in presentation. Though by the end, you still don't know what the true reality of the film was. But I think that's how it's supposed to be. Very reflective of life. The difference between true fact (if there is such a thing) and the perceptions of the people involved. The effect that intention has on a situation. I highly recommend this movie, especially if you liked Before Sunrise and Waking Life. Though beyond being based on dialogue, Tape is in a league of its own."