Try to remember. Ethan prods Robert to tell the truth...

dir Richard Linklater
scr Stephen Belber
with Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Uma Thurman
release US 2.Nov.01; UK 12.Jul.02
Lions Gate
01/US 1h26

5 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

some things you can't erase Despite the obvious origins as a play--only three characters in one room--this startling film manages to keep us utterly gripped. Vince and John (Hawke and Leonard) are high school buddies who meet up in a hotel room after several years. They have taken different roads in life; Vince is a volunteer fireman and drug dealer, while John is an arty filmmaker. And it soon becomes apparent that Vince has an agenda for this meeting--trying to get John to admit to something he may or may not have done 10 years ago. Then another school friend enters; and Amy (Thurman) has a thing or two to say on the subject as well.

Everything about this film is spot on. Linklater shot it on a consumer video camera, but his careful planning and artistic eye makes every exchange of dialog riveting, funny and/or powerfully dramatic. The brilliant script reveals the characters slowly but surely, and the actors are right on top of it, peeling back layers (or maybe not) as they continually turn the tables on each other. There are very strong themes here, a stunning examination of memory and guilt, responsibility and authenticity, manipulation and selfish ambition. It's stunning, never dull for a second, and despite its deceptively simple production values, a virtuoso piece of guerrilla filmmaking. Must see.
themes, language, drugs cert 15 11.Nov.01 sliff

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2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall