Based on the play by Stephen Belber, “Tape” is Austinite Linklater’s new addition to the digital medium of feature filmmaking. Shot entirely in one dreary hotel room, the film takes place over a period of one long evening where two old “friends” get together, seemingly, to reminisce over old times.
Johnny (Robert Sean Leonard) is a filmmaker who is brought back to his long since abandoned hometown to attend a screening. Ethan Hawke, who is approaching Ben Affleck in the annoyance department, is Vince, and Uma Thurman is Amy.
While the film portends to be a comedy, once the first few minutes have passed, “Tape” takes a serious turn. The funloving dialogue that takes place early on quickly transforms into accusations of past events that change the tone completely from light comedy to serious drama. Vince is harboring anger towards his old buddy Johnny and decides to release his angst during a “friendly” get together.
Unbeknownst to Johnny, Vince has invited Amy, the ex of Vince, who Johnny apparently raped years earlier. As the film progresses and voices are raised the audience is dealt a very interesting and compelling film. In fact, the only real drawback in the film is the ever adolescent performance from Hawke.
Overall, “Tape” is an interestingly staged play that, with the proper actors could have made a great film, instead of an adequate one. If anything can be learned from this it is that Linklater needs to break his addiction with the untalented Ethan Hawke and find another greasy, slimey, bitter actor to star in his movies.