A movie about a killer tire. Y’know, like a car tire. How do you get an entire feature length movie out of this one simple concept? If you’re director Quentin Dupieux, the killer tire is just half of the story. Rubberis easily one of the most unique and inventive movies to come out in recent memory. But describingRubber without giving too much away, therein lies a challenge. My review continues after the jump, but be warned: If you want to be surprised by the film, just head down to the final paragraph and look for the numerical score. Let’s be real, that’s what you’re going to look at first anyway.
Right off the bat, Rubber demands that you throw away all preconceived notions you may have about the film. It all begins with one statement: No reason. This single statement is the basis for the entire film. At the beginning of the movie, a sheriff rises out of the trunk of a car (Why? No reason) and asks the audience “In E.T., why is the alien brown?” No reason. “In the romantic film, why does the couple get together at the end?” No reason. Why does a tire come alive and start killing people? No reason.
After this initial declaration of theme, the narrative switches focus to an audience in the desert that the sheriff is talking to. A man in a suit hands everyone in the audience a pair of binoculars. Then the movie goes and gets all meta on your unsuspecting ass.
“Watch the movie,” the man in a suit says to the onscreen audience. Wait, what? This movie is about watching movies? Yes Virgina, it is. And that’s where Rubber’s true genius lies; it’s the best movie ever made about watching movies. As an audience member, you’re left staring at yourself on screen, thinking the exact thoughts the characters on screen are thinking, because you and the mass of people that surround you are the main character in this movie. Now, you must be asking, “Max, what about the killer tire?” I was just getting to that.
The story of Roger the tire is very simplistic, and only there really to drive the main theme of the film. Roger’s life begins in the middle of a California desert, as he awakens and starts to understand the world around him. As soon as Roger learns how to roll around, he discovers that he has the power to makes things blow up. Cans, bottles, spiders, scorpions, no one is safe from Roger’s power. He soon discovers a beautiful girl driving a car, and starts to follow her. But as soon as Roger realizes he can’t have her, he goes on a killing spree across town. Before you know it, this tire has blown up the heads of most everyone in town, with the exception of the local police. The cops try one last ditch effort to try and put a stop to Roger’s spree.
The Roger story is really just filler for the incredibly meta story of the audience, and the man in the suit. And by the end of the film, you’re left wondering “How much of that was a movie?” While the film succeeds in so many different areas, I wish that Dupieux would’ve played with his theme even more. As it is in the film, it’s a perfect balance of Roger’s story, and the audience’s. But further playing with the film’s themes would’ve made for an even more thought provoking flick.
But don’t just think Rubber has only two tricks up it’s sleeve. With Dupieux taking over most of the chief creative roles, you have a film that really is the director’s vision. Dupieux’s cinematography shows beauty in an otherwise dirty desert setting. His hand held camera movements actually work within the context of the film (even though 90% of handheld shots in movies are lame), and are edited together perfectly. And let’s not forget to mention Dupieux’s score. Intense, electric, and not what you’d expect at all. It’s akin to the opening credits of Gaspar Noe’s opening credits track for his film Enter the Void.
Rubber is a modern marvel of a film that should be re-watched, studied, and analyzed for years to come. The film has been picked up by Magnet for a US release, but details about distribution are scarce. I’ll be sure to post any news of a wider US release as soon as I hear about it.