Richard Linklater's edgy, gripping 2001 feature, adapted from a Stephen Belber play, unfolds in real time in a motel room. Two supposed old friends from college (Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard) meet up ten years later, and the woman both were involved with (Uma Thurman) eventually joins them. This resembles Linklater's animated Waking Life, made around the same time, in only a few particulars: it was shot on digital video, it's very talky, and it indirectly expresses a certain amount of skepticism about whether objective reality exists. None of the characters emerges as very sympathetic. (Hawke plays a dope dealer, and the drama suggests on occasion a kind of slacker Strindberg.) The comparison that's been made with Alfred Hitchcock's Rope seems apt—though here there's a lot of editing, in contrast to Rope's use of lengthy takes. In both cases, a technical experiment becomes the occasion for fairly rigorous self-scrutiny. R, 84 min.

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