Rubber (2010)

Rubber is weird. Really fucking weird. On a sliding scale of 1-10, 1 being the banality of a Richard Curtis bile-fest, 5 being a drug-addled dinner conversation with Spike Jonze and 10 being Hunter S. Thompson having a three-way with David Lynch and Tracy Emin while several howler monkeys encircle them, dancing the Macarena, only pausing to do blow off each others backs intermittently and scratch themselves, then Rubber would sit comfortably at a 7 and a half on that scale.

Rubber is the story of Robert, a simple un-branded car tyre who just wants to kill things via psychokinesis. He wakes up one day in a trash pile in the middle of the desert, half buried in sand, and promptly shakes himself free, only to begin rolling across the desert until he reaches a road. On that road, is a beautiful, beguiling French lady in a red car, at which point he becomes obsessed with her and follows her to a dusty Motel. Did I mention it was a bit weird?! That’s about all I can say without ruining large chunks of it by including massive spoilers, but suffice to mention that there is more to it than that and there are bizarre sections including the useless local constabulary and a desert-bound audience watching the proceedings through binoculars.

The most important thing you need to know about Rubber, which is also explained in a direct to camera monologue by it’s principal [human] character, is that it’s one big celebration of that age-old Hollywood storytelling principal of ‘no reason’; that there needn’t be any reason for the characters motivations, for the story progression or the fact that E.T. was brown. French director (and purveyor of irritating electro wankery involving little yellow puppets) Quentin Dupieux (a.k.a. Mr Oizo), takes this concept and doesn’t so much run with it, as sprint long distance, possibly also while on opiates.

The cinematography is excellent throughout; filmed in sun-tinged, bleached out shades of yellow and brown, ensuring Rubber always looks amazing. The acting is also a major plus point. It can’t have been an easy feat to discuss a sentient car tyre in a believable way but the cast does so with an admirable level of conviction throughout, a particular stand-out being the wonderfully eccentric Stephen Spinella as the bumbling, mental Lieutenant Chad.

As a fledgling director, Dupieux proves he is one to watch. He makes sure that there are plenty of appealing visuals and engaging, interesting shots. The absolute belief he must have had in his own project is also evident in every frame and so for that alone, I tip my proverbial hat to the man.

As an interesting, visually arresting, inventive experiment in filmmaking, Rubber succeeds. Tragically, it also failed on a couple of levels for me. The main one being that while it always looks nice, the fact that it follows a car tyre means there are large sections of the film that are entirely without dialogue. That would have been fine however, had the film not been about a rubber wheel, meaning that any audience member would have a mammoth task trying to connect with proceedings. It’s this disconnectedness that lead me to drift off a couple of times during the longer scenes in which Robert rolls through the desert scenery doing very little…….because he’s a car tyre and he can’t, naturally.

Rubber is bonkers, in the best possible way. It’s 75 minutes of pure, unadulterated brain-fuckery. It is without a shadow of a doubt, not going to be to everyone’s tastes. In fact, I’d put money on Rubber baffling most people but if you like your films left of centre and you have an open mind, then Rubber could just be your new favourite movie. A future cult classic.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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