Tape (2001)

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Released 20-Jan-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Notes-More about InDigEnt Films
Trailer-More from Palace Films
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 83:14 (Case: 86)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Richard Linklater
InDigEnt Films
Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Ethan Hawke
Uma Thurman
Robert Sean Leonard
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, and drug use
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Rolling Rock beer
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Tape is an opportunity for me to revisit the work of the director Richard Linklater, whose only other work I had seen was the cult favourite Dazed and Confused. On watching (and reviewing for this site) this earlier work, I said that Producer, writer and director Richard Linklater seems content to reflect "how it was" for a generation of American teenagers, rather than making any particular statement about what it all "meant". My review attracted some criticism from fans of the movie. Does Linklater redeem himself for me with Tape - and will I redeem myself with fans of his work?

    Featuring a small, but well-chosen cast, Tape is self-evidently based on a one-set stage play. Ethan Hawke plays Vince who is joined in a motel room by old high school friends Jon (Robert Sean Leonard) and Amy (Uma Thurman).

    The story begins as Vince prepares for the arrival of Jon in a motel room in Lansing, Michigan. Jon is showing a movie at the local film festival and Vince appears to be there to watch his old friend's meisterwerk. Their friendly banter about past times soon turns to the subject of Vince's unrequited love - Amy. It transpires that whilst Vince never managed to consummate his high school relationship with Amy...Jon did. The evening turns into an interrogation, with Vince determined to dissect the events leading up to Jon and Amy's night of passion. Vince harangues Jon to the point where he concedes that he may have actually raped Amy, since they were both drunk and things did get a little rough.

    Jon is horrified when Vince reveals he has taped the conversation. Even worse, Vince has obviously been in recent contact with Amy, and she soon calls and accepts an invitation to dinner with Vince. The scene is set for an uncomfortable post-mortem of John and Amy's previous relationship...

    In directing this little ensemble piece, Linklater acquits himself rather well as a director (and cameraman). The tight confines of the motel room would prove a challenge to any director, but he draws some worthy performances from his small cast (the often under-utilised Hawke in particular). The screenplay and original play on which the movie is based is credited to Stephen Belber, and the script and storyline is both intriguing and mildly disturbing. Belber's dialogue manages to build quite a sense of tension, as it becomes clear that Vince is playing with Jon, the way a cat plays with a mouse before killing it. The cinematography is a tad boring due to the confines of the set, and the use of rapid pans between the two main characters when they are deep in conversation can occasionally be visually unpleasant. Overall, however, the realism of the characters means that your interest is sustained through the fairly short running time. This movie is worth the effort it takes to watch, and those who are in the mood for a mature, dialogue-driven character study will not be disappointed.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality of this transfer is acceptable, albeit with a grainy look to it.

    Originally shot on Digital Video, the feature is presented in the (assumed) intended theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. This video transfer is overly soft with some noticeable grain present throughout, although this does provide a suitably realistic, almost voyeuristic fly-on-the-wall feel to the piece.

    Colours are rather muted. The overall feel is moody and low budget, but this adds to the cinema-verite feel of the piece. There is no sign of colour bleeding, black levels are deep with no low level noise but the shadow detail is sometimes limited, falling into full black a little too quickly for my liking.

    The transfer is generally free from major MPEG artefacts, although there are a couple of fleeting occasions of digital tape drop out or pixelisation present. There is some minor aliasing present, for example on the air conditioning grille at 5:24. Edge enhancement was not noticeable and telecine wobble was absent.

    The transfer is free from significant film (video) damage, although there are several minor white scratches which crop up from time to time (for example around 27:51 and 31:54).

    According to Power DVD, there is an English subtitle track present, but selecting it yields no subtitles.

    This is a single sided single layered (DVD 5) disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The overall audio transfer is adequate but unspectacular.

    The English audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 224 kbps. The surround flag is not enabled.

    The soundtrack is reasonably clear and is without any significant flaws. There are no clicks, pops or hiss present but the overall transfer sounds a little muffled on occasion and you may have to turn up the volume past normal listening levels to make out all of the dialogue clearly.

    There is no musical score, with dialogue being the only sound between the opening and closing credits. This would seem to be a deliberate choice on the part of the director - the dialogue is the most important part of the film and incidental music would weaken the impact of the script. The use of I'm Sorry, sung by Brenda Lee is very fitting as the end credits roll.

    As might be expected for such a dialogue driven work, the soundstage is fully frontal. There is little separation across the front soundstage and the surrounds are unused.

    The subwoofer takes a nap throughout.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are minimal extras on this DVD.


    The menu consists of a still graphic accompanied by a rendition of Brenda Lee's I'm Sorry. It allows you to either play the movie, jump to one of twelve chapter stops or play a small selection of extras.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    There are several silent, text-based screens of information available for Hawke, Thurman, Leonard, Linklater and writer Belber.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and running for 1:55, the trailer has a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps. It makes the movie look rather more dramatic than it turns out to be.

More about InDigEnt Films

    Three text pages revealing the origins of the company (Independent Digital Entertainment) and its mission to facilitate low budget film-making on Digital Video.

More from Palace Films

    A collection of trailers for the following features, all presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this film appears to be identical to our own. There is no overwhelming reason to prefer one version over the other.


    Tape is a reasonably entertaining low-budget piece. It requires your full attention to get the most from it, and is therefore not recommended for a quick shot of mindless entertainment. The stage-play origins of the piece are highly obvious throughout. If you are looking for an interesting dialogue-driven alternative to the latest Hollywood blockbuster, with some good acting and direction, this may satisfy. Worth a rental if you are in the right frame of mind, but nowhere near the calibre of, say, Magnolia.

    The video quality is acceptable.

    The audio transfer is acceptable.

    The extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Monday, August 18, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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