Local boy done good, Jon, is returning home with a movie for his old town's film festival. While there, he meets up with Vince, his best friend from high school, now an embittered slacker who seems to be doing his best to ruin Jon's big moment.
Premiered at last year's Sundance as a companion piece to Waking Life, Tape shows director Richard Linklater's continuing preoccupation with the portrayal of America's disillusioned youth.
Like his 1996 effort, SubUrbia, Tape has its roots in theatre. Stephen Belber's Three-Hander - a play set entirely in a motel room - seems ill-suited for a movie adaptation, but Linklater cleverly uses the limited cast and restricted space to his advantage, creating an oppressively claustrophobic atmosphere.
While at the start we side with clean-cut, polite Jon over the immature and boorish Vince, Belber's excellent writing cleverly shifts our perceptions of the characters as the action progresses.
The revelation of the skeleton that Vince drags out of Jon's closet greatly complicates the characters' clearly defined roles, leading to a climax that is thought-provoking and infused with surprising humour.
Tense and tautly scripted, Tape is a good example of how even the least cinematic of set-ups can ultimately produce interesting and dynamic filmmaking.