The word that best describes this powerful ensemble piece is “taut”. That’s right Tape is taut. There is no slack or filler in this film. It is a story about three people, that occurs in one room, in about an hour and half. There are no scene changes, no time breaks and certainly no special effects. And yet, it is the most gripping and challenging drama I have seen all year. Richard Linklater tosses Robert Sean Leonard, Uma Thurman, and his old pal Ethan Hawke into a room, turns up the heat with past decisions made by each character and allows human nature to become the storyteller. And what a tale it weaves. Tape possesses humor, tension, and a thematic tenacity that will keep you lying awake for at least half an hour wrestling with your own ghosts and asking “What would I have done?” Linklater’s strength has always been to find drama in dialogue, with such talky films as Slacker, Waking Life, Before Sunrise, and Dazed & Confused. But in this lesser-known project he has brought his ability to a new level. Strong performances add unflinching verisimilitude to the characters and the tone of the film is alternately relaxed and tense as though teasingly drawing you into its bed. The consummation is enlightening and well-worth the seduction.
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