Lucien’s Retro Review: Tape

TapeI don’t know how many of you have seen the one-act play No Exit. It’s about three damned souls who end up in Hell.  They are locked into a room together, to spend eternity.  That is their torment.  It’s a pretty damn insightful play, where all three of them analyze why they are in Hell, and come to realize what kind of person they are.  The ending isn’t especially cathartic, as even after they realize who they are, they are still trapped with each other for all eternity.  That’s the ultimate message.  It doesn’t matter what you do.  In the end, this is what it is.  I always liked that play.  This film is in that same vein, and while this also isn’t an especially cathartic film, it’s one that I like all the same.

The story goes that two friends, Vince and Joe, meeting up.  It is a reunion after many years, and there is clearly some unresolved tension between the two of them.  One of them has a plan.  A plan to uncover a secret that the other has been hiding, for years.  When the person the secret revolves around, a young woman named Amy, comes into the picture, you realize that there is more to the story than meets the eye.  These three are trapped inside of a room together, and it becomes readily apparently that all is not as it seems.  It all culminates in an ending that I guarantee you will not see coming.  Not so much a twist, as just a strange turn of events that have things ending on a note that is not even a little cathartic, but still works.

What to talk about.  I guess the first thing is that this movie is shot in a REALLY strange way.  It’s like an old video camera.  Which makes sense, considering the title of the movie.  Every shot in this movie is strange, and the off-putting nature of that can be a little jarring.  However, this film isn’t meant to be visually appealing.  This is a film all about characters.

All three of these performances were awesome.  The best of which being Robert Sean Leonard, as Joe.  This is one of those underrated actors who I really hope gets more work.  Now that House M.D. is done, I haven’t heard much about this guy.  He plays these characters who are straight-forward, yet have these darker sides that always appears as off-putting.  Like it’s this secret part of him that you don’t really want to see.  Hopefully I’ll see him in more good stuff before his time is up.  There is Uma Thurman as Amy, and she is naturally hard to read.  As the plot unfolds, her motivations become more and more hard to understand.  By the end, she still keeps you guessing.  What did she want in all this?  How is she leaving the situation?  It’s intense.  The weakest of the three performances is Ethan Hawke as Vince.  It felt like he was trying a bit too hard to be strange.  It didn’t come off as natural.  I did like his role in the film, but he was very shadowed by Leonard and Thurman, who clearly stole the show.

I think this is one of those movies that people should watch, if only once.  There was this constant tension throughout the whole deal that never let up, even at the end.  There is no background music.  It is totally quiet throughout the entirety of it.  The off-putting visual style, the character acting that gives so much tension to each scene.  It’s one of those movies that you have to see.  Don’t know if it’s one that is made for multiple viewings, but still.  I am glad that I saw this.  Not sure how to feel about it, either.

I like movies where you are emotionally confused.  This film throws a ton of ethical issues your way.  Who is in the wrong?  Where did it end?  Who grew?  Who stayed flat?  The lack of any certainty, I am going to be thinking about this film for a long time to come.  And that is the best thing that I can say about it.  Take this review for what you will.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,



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