Review by Camden Ferrell
Based on true events, Tape is the newest movie from director Deborah Kampmeier. Despite a somewhat sluggish and oddly executed first half, the movie utilizes its second half to deliver a chilling and painful story about the horrors woman face in the entertainment industry.
In New York City, two young actresses, Rosa and Pearl cross paths. Using a hidden camera, Rosa is secretly filming Pearl. Slowly, the dark side of the entertainment industry presents itself and we learn about all of the painfully accurate behavior women face every day. This is a timely story that is unfortunately still heavily present in our world. They add a layer of mystery to this tale without losing any of its authenticity.
Kampmeier’s script is fairly strong, but it does have its inconsistencies. The movie navigates between Rosa’s intent with her hidden cameras and Pearl’s pursuit of an acting career with her manager Lux. While there is some overlap, each section feels completely different in the quality and style of their writing. With Rosa, the dialogue is minimal, and the film is heavily reliant on visual storytelling at which it doesn’t always excel. However, Pearl’s scenes are written fantastically, and it captures the haunting realism of the subject matter, and it’s very interesting to watch.
The acting in this film is decent throughout. Annarosa Mudd, who plays Rosa, does a decent job in her first major acting role, but there are times where her physical acting and expressions could have been better. The real standout of this film is Isabelle Fuhrman (The Hunger Games) who plays Pearl. Her scenes are not easy to watch, and Fuhrman does an amazing job of conveying the fear, discomfort, and embarrassment of her character with stark realism and conviction.
The visual style of the film is unique, but it doesn’t always fit in the film. Since Rosa is using hidden cameras to record Pearl, a lot of the scenes in this movie are told through that lens, and it is just somewhat distracting. It’s constantly adjusting focus, and while that is how those cameras work, it feels like it could have been used in moderation. However, every other scene was shot and blocked very well.
On a thematic level, this movie is phenomenal. It’s a #MeToo story that says a lot about the state of the entertainment industry right now. It’s heartbreaking to know that this movie was based on true events, but it does shine a light on the problem and call out the lack of attention this receives. It’s an essential story about how strong, ambitious women are preyed on and exploited every day. It’s chilling, disturbing, and deeply distressing, and it sends its message clearly.
Kampmeier does a great job with executing the second half of the film. It is done in a way that is tasteful, sensitive, but doesn’t ever compromise the power and effectiveness of her message. It is a story that could only have been told by a woman, and Kampmeier understands this and carries out the movie very well. Even though some scenes in the first half weren’t the best, the second half shows that she has the potential to be the next great director.
Tape is a difficult watch, but on a thematic level, it’s a must-see. The movie does have its shortcomings, but it is a highly engaging and unsettling story that will stick with you. For those who have dealt with sexual harassment, exploitation, and assault, this may prove to be too much, and I recommend using discretion before watching the film. This is a great movie about the plight and dangers women face every day.
Tape will have daily screenings at 7pm EST from March 26 to April 9. Each screening will be followed by a panel conversation, and the movie will be on VOD April 10. For more information, visit www.TAPEVirtualPremiere.com