Review Date: April 26, 2002
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Stephen Belber
Producers: Alexis Alexanian, Anne McBay
Robert Sean Leonard
Linklater regained my respect here, as did Ethan Hawke, the very serious actor who didn't deserve an Oscar nomination for his role in TRAINING DAY, but definitely deserved something for his go-around in this flick (isn't that just like the Academy?). And Robert Sean Leonard. Who? You might be asking yourself. Exactly! Here's a guy who's probably best known for his roles in DEAD POET'S SOCIETY and SWING KIDS, but who essentially goes mano-a-mano with Ethan Hawke for the first hour of this movie (which takes place in one room and only stars three actors, btw), and comes out smelling like a rose. Good shtuff, bubba! Here's a mench who takes the challenge of an insightful script and established actors, and more than stands his own. And by the time actress Uma Thurman joins the party (who incidentally, is married to co-star Ethan Hawke), the base of the film has been turned into a rock solid foundation and the introduction to the latest character, takes it all to an all-new, and even more interesting, plateau. The bottom line with this movie with me was that it was captivating from the get-go. Yes, it's basically a play (based on one, as well) which stars three people for 90 minutes in one room and not much else. But that made it all that much more impressive. How these folks were able to turn a trio of actors in a room into an all-out engaging, entertaining, edge-of-your-seat dramatic event, is beyond me.
Sure, I personally related to this scenario more than others (the two dudes are basically the Arrow and I, save for the rape angle), but even if you don't relate directly to the characters, the general idea of repenting against one's past digressions, the idea of fessing up to your own wrongs, the idea of moving on and not acknowledging one's past, is one that we can all certainly relate to. I loved this movie because it touched a nerve, it struck me as entirely believable, it was able to maintain my extreme curiosity throughout and it featured many twists and just the right amount of realism from its actors, to safely transport me into their world, and invite me down for an intriguing voyeuristic adventure. Watch this movie if you want to see a great acting workshop. See it if you want to prove to yourself that Richard Linklater isn't all about smoking weed and making self-important movies. See it if you want to see one of the more insightful, entertaining and memorable flicks from 2001 and see it if you want to prove that I am full of shit and that I don't know what makes a good movie (yes, I await the nasty emails). But for whatever reason you decide to see this movie, see it because it might get you to rethink some of the questionable decisions that you yourself may have made in your life, decisions which could, and to some extent, should, change the course of your own well-being. Basically, see it and then call me in the morning.
TAPE is one of the more underrated and unseen pictures of 2001, and I only hope that this dinky review gets you to check it out in the hopes of experiencing one of the stronger independent film productions of the past few years. It just goes to show that you don't need much more than a few really great actors, a solid script and a video camera to attain the level of a powerful movie. An awesome accomplishment for everyone involved.