Tape feels like a slapdash venture, an idea that fits with Linklater's (Waking Life, Slackers) reputation as one of cinema's most easy-going directors. However, this shot-on-video drama in which all the action takes place in a single motel room is a lesson in filmmaking control and discipline. Based on Stephen Belber's play, the movie stars Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard as high school friends who reunite when aspiring director Leonard's first movie is included in their hometown film festival. The drug-dealing Hawke -- he's an immature, beer-swilling dude -- confronts the pretentious Leonard and accuses him of raping his high school girlfriend (Uma Thurman). Hawke tapes the discussion, and then Thurman shows up, turning this all-boys bullshit session into a tense stand-off during which she reveals her own memories of the event. The acting is first-rate, but it's Linklater's ability to use his camera as provocateur and spy that keeps us riveted. 86 minutes.
TAPE (Richard Linklater) Rating: NNN