Anyone who saw the trailer for Rubber over the past few months must have, as I did, scratched their head in wonderment and considered the ways in which it could be either decidedly brilliant or decidedly horrid. Because Rubber is, at it’s core, a story of a rubber tyre with psychokinetic powers. Yes, you read that right. If you’re not too sure then go back and read it again. All done? Got that synopsis locked in? Then we’ll begin.
In some ways that really is all there is to Rubber, at heart. Thankfully, writer-director Quentin Dupieux knows that even such a joyous gag as a psychokinetic rubber tyre wouldn’t quite be enough to fill a movie and keep film fans entertained (even when the film comes in at just under the 90 minute mark). No, not at all. What Dupieux does, in a very clever and surreal move, is to place an audience WITHIN the movie. This then gives him room to poke fun at both the events that unfold and audiences themselves, whether it’s the behaviour of people who comment on everything happening in a movie or people seeking ever more and more extreme thrills. It also allows him to add layers of artifice to proceedings and play around with what is real, what is fake and whatever seems to be one but ends up being the latter.
Midway break for the lazy reference of the day – this is David Cronenberg meets David Lynch and I say that after careful deliberation of the best way to “sell” Rubber to people, because it is a film that most definitely should be seen by those seeking something unique and entertaining.
The cast are all pretty good. Stephen Spinella is great as Lieutenant Chad, a man who starts the movie by getting out of a car trunk to explain how the events you are about to see are a homage to the movie style of “no reason”. Jack Plotnick is as amusing as he is slightly creepy as a sidekick charged with taking care of the audience. Roxane Mesquida is believably gorgeous, so we can understand why the tyre is attracted to her. Yes, yes I just wrote that sentence. And the other main character is a wheelchair-bound audience member played by Wings Hauser who symbolises the staunchest armchair critic and knows how things should play out from the very beginning. There are others onscreen, and nobody stinks, but these are the main players. And the tyre, of course. Perhaps a tyre that will one day get it’s own IMDb listing a la Wilson The Volleyball.
Despite having no features and very limited movement (it rolls and tilts and wobbles just like a normal tyre), it’s amazing how the tyre is given character. The way it moves, the way shots are framed, the audio throughout – all fantastic ways to breathe life into something you could not imagine ever being the centre of a movie.
Everything about this film, as surprised as I was to find out, is practically perfect. The cinematography is well done, the screen composition, the script, the soundtrack, even those moments of explosive death unleashed by the tyre. The only thing that stops this from getting a perfect score from me is the addition of quirk upon quirk in scenes where it wasn’t needed. But do treat yourself by going to see this movie as soon as you can.
Rubber has been doing the rounds at the movie festivals for a while now and has received a number of limited screenings here in the UK and is out to buy on Blu-ray/DVD on 11th April.
DIRECTOR: QUENTIN DUPIEUX
STARS: STEPHEN SPINELLA, JACK PLOTNICK, WINGS HAUSER, ROXAN MESQUIDA
RUNTIME: 83 MINS APPROX