Rubber is essentially a movie about a killer tyre that roams the desolate American desert on a sadistic mission to destroy everything in its path. Sounds mad? Director Quentin Dupieux, better known for his work as Mr. Ozio (remember Flat Beat?) is recognised for his cooky style.
Beginning with a cop (Stephen Spinnella) getting out of a car that has just knocked down several chairs placed sporadically on a road, the Rubber starts with what could be seen as a disclaimer for the film that follows. Addressing the audience directly, Spinnella identifies that there is ‘no reason’ behind many of the most-loved films and in doing so manages to excuse the directionless and quirky nature of Rubber.
Not only does the film follow the birth and life of the deranged tyre (who, after waking in the desert, goes on a killer rampage in between booking into motels and watching t.v.), it plants audience members into the film itself. Providing the group with their own binoculars, the film’s audience watches the Rubber‘s development from afar, voicing the real audience’s sceptical asides. Blurring the boundaries between film and reality, the film embraces Dupieux’s innovative imagination and lets it run loose.
Never before has a film centred its focus on a rubber tyre, but it works surprisingly well. Despite its expressionless exterior, the tyre displays a level of emotion that even some actors fail to achieve. Although we’ve been warned that even the best cinematic pieces have ‘no reason’ behind their most central themes, the fact that the tyre’s motives are never unearthed makes for disgruntling viewing. Feeling like a Christine origins movie, the film embraces the clichés of countless American movies.
With its impressive shots and pristine landscapes but unfortunate ambiguous plot, the film sometimes feels like elaborate Canon 5D test footage. As the plot slowly unravels, the film begins to feel more like a social commentary that has been hidden behind an audience-pulling gimmick.
Written in three weeks, Rubber contradicts the 3D era. Whilst Hollywood focuses on achieving bigger and better visual thrills, Dupieux focuses on testing the dynamic between audience and the film’s material. Enthralling, if not always forthcoming with information, Rubber is worth a watch just to see what split audience opinion at last year’s film festivals. Oh… and for those of you wondering just how they filmed the wheel rolling aimlessly around… it was remote-controlled, of course!
Best performance: The tyre itself.