Tape (Video On Demand)
Starring Isabelle Furhmann, Annarosa Mudd, Tarek Bishara
Director, screenplay: Deborah Kampmeier
Rating: *** ½
I have to admit Tape, a docu-gritty drama about sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, shook me up. Just a few days ago a Bollywood actress had confided in me about how a producer had called her to his office at the beginning of her career, taken off all his clothes and told her…the choice is hers. No coercion involved.
Exactly the same situation is played with chilling candour in Tape, the stunning but finally uneven and over-wrought with emotional rage, drama about the real-life sexual exploitation suffered by actress Annarosa Mudd. Here she plays Rosa (Anna-Rosa, get it?) a woman on the warpath against unctuous subtly sleazy casting director Lux (played brilliantly by Middle Eastern actor Tarek Bishara who had to change his name to Thom Bishops to get roles in Hollywood post 9/11).
Rosa wounds her wrists, pierces her tongue and shaves off her hair before taking on Lux’s sleazy ways. Just why she needs to draw attention to herself by looking like a punk version of Joan Of Arc is nor clear.
Lux’s modus operandi is so foolproof it would be exemplary were it not so exploitative and chilling. He lures anxious aspiring actresses in a seedy warehouse, convinces them that the only way they can make their way up is by doing down, in a manner of speaking and then waits for them to say yes to sex with him.
Lux’s seduction of the vulnerable Pearl(Isabelle Furhmann) takes up most of this raw visceral drama of dirty doings on an unimaginably corrupt scale. We see the whole elaborate game from a distance as the wronged Rosa secretly records and watches the grief encounter in the warehouse.
The style of telling this tale of despicable aspirations is so stoic that the narrative often resembles an expose on a news channel filmed on a shaky cellphone by a passerby. Director Deborah Kampmeier’s film comes from a place of wounded pride and unplumbed rage. This state of agitation spreads outwards into the film, swathing it in flaming bouts of self-righteousness that denudes the drama of objectivity.
By the time Rosa pulls a gun on Lux in a crowded, the saga of sisterhood acquires a strangely sterile aloof feeling. The film is nonetheless a landmark for the #MeToo movement. Unlike the disappointing Bombshell which walked into the sex trap on tiptoes, this film rages right in with Shakespearean ferocity. But every potential crimebuster knows you have to control your rage to nab the wrongdoer.