U.S.A.| 2001. Colour. Dolby stereo SR. 86 mins.

Adapted from a Stephen Belber play and shot in digital video, this gripping drama unfolds in real time in a motel room. Ethan Hawke plays Vince, an impulsive thirtysomething drug dealer who arranges to meet his old friend John (Robert Sean Leonard), ostensibly to celebrate the latter’s success as a tyro filmmaker. But it gradually becomes apparent that Vince has more sinister motives. Secretly taping their conversation, he forces John to confess to committing what amounts to a date rape, and then arranges for a confrontation with the victim (Uma Thurman). Vince is, in many respects, the older version of Linklater’s previous idlers. He is someone whose development has been retarded by an idea he has about an episode from the past. The play explores some difficult ethical issues whose complexities Linklater uses to express a certain amount of scepticism about whether objective reality can be said to exist. He also calls into question the hyper-realist aesthetic of Dogme-style digital filmmaking by employing rapid cutting and unusual camera angles, both of which have a disorientating effect.

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