Saturday, 7 May 2011


Title: Rubber
Director: Quentin Dupieux
Released: 2010
Staring: Stephen Spinella, Roxanne Mesquida, Jack Plotnick, Haley Ramm, Wings Hauser, Ethan Cohn, Charley Koontz, Tara O’Brien

Plot: Robert is a tyre whom having gained life rolls through the local desert town, while also at the same time possessing the power to make things randomly explode using the power of mindbullets (“That’s telekenisis Kyle!”….sorry couldn’t resist it).

Review: Right from the start Director Dupieux wastes little time in letting the audience know what sort of film they are going to be in for, as Lieutenant Chad (Spinella) not so much breaks the fourth wall, but kicks it down and grabs hold of the audience directly, to delivers a monologue on how certain aspects of films are just accepted without question, using the colour of ET’s skin and more bizarrely the bathroom habits of the cast of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) as examples of this theroy and this of course is after he has climbed out of a trunk of a police car, which inturn has just driven through a seemingly random maze of wooden chairs. This monologue it would seem is Dupieux’s way of asking the audience to not question everything they are going to see, over the films relatively brief run time and instead to just roll with it, which honestly might be the best way to watch this film, especially when you consider just how ludicrous the plot is, let alone everything else which happens in the film.

“Rubber” in many ways is part music video and part experimental film, all contained in the shell of a B-movie plot. Still this hasn’t stopped it from becoming a highly talked about movie, even if most of the discussion has been in regard to the fact it’s a movie about a killer tyre who can make things explode on will, rather than anything regarding the rest of the plot and for the majority of folks I think they will find the trailer to be more than enough, with any attempts to watch the film no doubt proving a frustrating experience at best. Still for fans of the work of more surreal directors such as Michel Gondry and Greg Araki they still might find much to enjoy here, with this film easily in the same category of their most surreal works like “Science of Sleep” (2006) and “Nowhere” (1997), while at the same time recalling memories of Daft Punk’s “Electroma” (2007). This film like that providing an almost glorified music video for Mr. Oizo and Gaspard Augé (one half of French electro duo Justice), who here supply the majority of the soundtrack. Soundtrack wise towards the end it does become kind of samey but at the same time perfectly frames certain sequences in the film, as does the seemingly random inclusion of Blue Magic’s “Just don’t want to be lonely” which comes completely out of nowhere, but helps to break up the overly similar electro, which at time descents a little too far into shoe gaze territory.

While the range of Dupieux’s creation might seem limited, he still has managed to bring a lot of character to a seemingly personality devoid object, in much the same way that John Carpenter did with his beach ball alien in “Dark Star” (1974). In Dupieux’s hands the humble tyre, is capable of not only stalking Sheila (Mesquida) but also processing a childlike curiosity to his surroundings, as he discovers his new found abilities and this is all without the aid of any additional emotions as Dupieux thankfully avoids slapping Robert with a misguided voiceover.

While the film largely focuses on Robert as he goes about terrorising the residents of the desert motel, he has for some unexplained reason chosen to hang around, his every move is eagerly watched by a group of binocular welding onlookers whose observations are frequently in tune with the thoughts of the audience, before randomly suffering a severe bout of food poisoning for no real reason, but no doubt by that point you will have stopped questioning things happening in this film. Still this group frequently refer to what they are watching as being “The film” with one member even scolding another for daring to film what they are watching on his camcorder. Meanwhile Lieutenant Chad keeps a surreal edge on things, by frequently proclaiming to everyone that they are all part of a movie, even inviting a fellow police officer to shoot him at one point, which even more bizarrely proves completely un-fatal, not that Dupieux answers any of these questions, instead leaving it up to the audience to make some kind of sense of what they are watching, though it would seem even Dupieux didn’t know what he had created, especially when the ending comes so suddenly and sloppily, despite Dupieux still setting up for a sequel which I think is an idea best left unexplored.

Essentially this film would have worked best as a short and stretched out to feature length, is no doubt going to seriously test the patience of the more casual or less open minded movie goer and while there are some great moments in the film, from the tyre in the shower sequence and the black humour of the boy using road kill as extra topping on his fathers pizza, there is a lot to like about this film, as truly random and beautifully bizarre as it is, while certainly marking Dupieux out as a film maker to watch and while it might be heavily flawed in places and suffer from some serious repetition it’s still strangely watchable like only the best surreal classics of which it will no doubt be ranked alongside.

1 comment:

  1. Saw this one recently, agree with your review. Its a "one trick pony" which can get tiresome at points, and yeah, it is very experimental. Those scenes where they reference the audience are pretty out there, breaking the fourth wall in a weird way. The most interesting parts are those where the actors are talking about how boring or incredilous some scenes are and that "they" (meaning us) are loosing interest. That was an interesting aspect of the film.

    The way the tire has personality to it even though its an inanimate object reminded me of a film I watched and reviewed recently called The Car (1977), the film is about a killer car, we never see who's the driver, but that car has got a personality! Check out my review for it if it interests you:


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