Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Uma Thurman
Written by: Stephen Belber, based on his play
Directed by: Richard Linklater
MPAA Rating: R for language and drug content
Running Time: 86
Date: 01/26/2001

Tape (2001)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Writer and director Richard Linklater follows up his mind-bending and ambitious Waking Life with this interesting little experiment, based on a play by Stephen Belber and shot in a single hotel room using two digital cameras (one operated by Linklater, the other by Maryse Alberti who photographed Crumb and Happiness, among other indie classics). Ethan Hawke stars as Vince, a beer-guzzling, coke snorting volunteer firefighter who sells drugs. He meets up with an old buddy, John (Robert Sean Leonard), whom he hasn't seen since high school. John is now an indie filmmaker debuting his film at a local festival. The two boys talk about lost loves, such as Amy (Uma Thurman) and how John may or may not have date-raped her ten years earlier. When Amy actually shows up and turns out to work for the D.A., things go haywire. Though I admired the idea behind the film, the execution, and the performances, the material doesn't seem to add up to anything. The payoff doesn't justify the set up. At this level, it's almost worth seeing but not quite worth the empty feeling it leaves.

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