Not to be confused with Richard Linklater’s experimental cult classic of the same name, Deborah Kampmeier’s Tape is the kind of critic-proof film that does its best to obscure its flaws with a heavy blanket of #MeToo polemic. A commendable subject matter does not a good movie make. Tape is inherently misguided, a queasily voyeuristic project, rendered nearly-unwatchable by its pseudo-artistic tendencies and patronizing tone. It achieves the rare feat of being as nearly as irredeemable as the subject of its contempt.
“…Rosa proceeds to follow Pearl to Lux’s studio, recording everything on her video cam sunglasses…”
Naïve, aspiring actress Pearl (Isabelle Fuhrman), steps into the treacherous world of the entertainment industry. “I need to know how to market myself so that I can have the career I’ve always dreamed of,” she states earnestly during her auditions. When they don’t go as planned, she is offered a special protégé program by a sleazy pseudo-manager, who calls himself Lux (Tarek Bishara). “Some of my tactics, methods, and strategy will go against everything you know in the entertainment industry,” Lux tells Pearl in his studio, which consists of a bed, with two lights and a camera aimed at it. They proceed to engage in an extended and dull power struggle of sorts.
Little does Pearl know, she is being spied on by the goth avenger Rosa (Annnarosa Mudd). Unlike the insecure, bulimic Pearl, the empowered Rosa has been around the block. After shaving her head and piercing her tongue, in a martyr-like ode to Lavinia from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (whose images are prominently featured throughout the narrative), Rosa proceeds to follow Pearl to Lux’s studio, recording everything on her video cam sunglasses. The film ends with a café-set finale that tries to sustain a note so strained, with its on-the-nose references to Polanski and Cosby, you can hear the snap as it all goes tumbling.
"…inherently misguided, a queasily voyeuristic project..."