Directed by: #IacopoNavari
Written by: Iacopo Navari
A Black Mirror inspired dystopia where our dreams can be recorded and rewatched like an old college football game, writer-director Iacopo Navari’s vision of a not too distant technological future is captivating but the actual story built within the world-building does lack the same ingenuity. Subconscious imagination has become a commodity in Navari’s film as Joel Hume desperate to regain his ability to dream calls the Sandman corporation to help him recapture his happiest dream revolving around his ex-girlfriend. Joel is visited by dream repairman Bob who does a begins a full brain diagnostic to find a solution to Joel’s predicament.
The Tape makes many parallels to how dreams are viewed as escapist entertainment similar to television in our own society. Bob’s character makes references to how dreams are sold on the black market through theft and piracy on cloud-based dream services, that VHS taped dreams deteriorate over time, and Joel’s desperate need to have his dreams back referencing the emotional attachments people have to their favourite television shows. It’s all exposition that just enriches the believability of the world through the small story lens of Joel’s apartment.
There is depth to the dream business as Navari builds Joel’s arc around the relationship with the ex-girlfriend and how Joel appears to be using the dream to deny the reality of around him, desperate to return to better times. Performance-wise, nothing about Luca Murphy or Gordon Peaston jumps out to augment the premise but they both are able to mix the emotion and exposition from Navari’s script into believable characters. The Tape is not very exciting beyond the initial premise though as the film mostly revolves around Bob asking Joel a series of questions for the diagnostic, there is some implied tension of Joel’s anger to the breakup but it has no bearing to the climax of the film. Bob’s character arc speaks to the larger world of the story but it feels that Navari isn’t exactly sure what he wants to achieve for either character leaving an anticlimactic ending that feels rushed.
The production design is very effective in establishing credibility to the science fiction, the editing showing the work Bob does on his laptop complete with slick company logos for Sandman Corp, brain scans of Joel, and running computer applications cataloguing dreams. Armando Marchetti’s score gives the mundane visuals some atmosphere but when The Tape wants to go for its most dramatic moments, everything comes across as underwhelming rather than tense gripping drama.
There is a brilliance to The Tape but it's mostly in Navari’s impressive world-building as the script reveals the potential for an interesting dilemma for a longer narrative. The actual story between Joel and Bob mainly goes for the most obvious routes and does little to leave a satisfying ending for an intrigued audience.