Based on a three-character, one-act play, Tape is set entirely in Room 19 of a seedy motel in Lansing, Michigan rented by Vince, an ill-tempered, outgoing party animal/drug dealer who's visited by his old high school friend Jon, a documentary filmmaker, where they pass the time reminiscing about the good old times which take a turn when Vince records their conversation with Jon admitting to a possible date-rape of Vince's old girlfriend Amy, who later shows up and opens up a new wave of talk and arguments about whose story is fact or fabricated. Written by
This movie comes from a seasoned director who, in the same year, nonetheless, shot another movie which i would consider the best film of 2001. This one, also shot on digital cameras takes place in a dingy hotel room and contains a cast of, count 'em, 1,2, THREE people, who are never seen outside of the context of the dingy motel room. So, don't expect for the scene to change. This film, based on a play, strives on realism, hence no orchestral score, no unnecessary settings or extra characters, just three fantastic actors dealing with issues. One (Hawke) is a volunteer firefighter/ drug dealer who likes to, ahem, get excessively high off his own supply. Another is his high school buddy,a budding young director whose film is being screen in the Lansing, Michigan Film festival, whose apparent maturity and superiority over his drug-binging pal and confidente is deceptive. The final character, who arrives 2/3 of the way through the movie is a former high school crush/ associate district attorney with significantly surrogate emotional ties to both of the men.
The riveting conversations that evolve from somewhat sneeringly nostalgic to downright inhospitable fluidly move the film more actively than any number of action-packed popcorn flicks out there. In fact, you'll have no trouble getting over the fact that you're just watching 3 people talking in a room for 2 hours (I'll admit that that was a little intimidating at first). The film successfully lures us in with that inherent voyeurism that brought those first moviegoers into the transformed vaudeville theaters. As a passive observer, we become immersed in exactly that which should be none of our business, just like Hawke's character pulls himself into a situation that is none of his business. By the end, no clear resolution is reached and as compelling and intriguing as it all was, we feel guilty for looking through the peephole.
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