Eye For Film >> Movies >> Black Tape (2002) Film Review
Reviewed by: Trinity
An army officer, living in a respectable suburb in Iran, buys a video camera for his wife's 18th birthday. Together they use it to record their uneasy relationship, for Parviz is her former torturer and Goli is his prize catch. As she tries to protect her father and sister from persecution, she finds herself increasingly trapped in her own home. The camera becomes an additional watchful eye, spying on her attempts to better her life, as well as her confidante - allowing us to see her struggle to find out the truth of what her husband is prepared to do.
Fariborz Kamkari's film is a very intimate drama played out using an interesting conceit. By recording everything as it is seen "on camera", it draws the audience in, like a reluctant guest, awkwardly watching a domestic fight. This approach certainly has some advantages and will get Black Tape media attention in the same way as The Blair Witch Project, or My Little Eye. However, like those films, it suffers because of the restrictions it places upon itself.
By making us believe that the entire film was shot on one tape - the "black tape" of the title - it introduces doubts in our mind. For instance, how can both husband and wife use the camera to spy on each other? Why haven't they erased potentially incriminating evidence from the tape?
The actors do well, as the staging and dialogue is consistent with a home movie style. However, there is a reason why most people do not like watching home videos. It also leads to a few too many "interesting" static camera angles and use of stock effects - sound fading in and out, camera being carried whilst still on.
This is a shame, as the subject matter is powerful, although the relationship between the young daughter of a Kurdish rebel and her army officer captor/husband/torturer could have been explored in more depth.
In the end, despite intercutting various shots of the "special rope" that was used on the girl, the denouement seems somewhat flat and predictable. Perhaps that is what was intended, to portray life for people like Goli as a sad inevitability.Reviewed on: 02 Aug 2003