Where the “Rubber” meets the celluloid

Where the “Rubber” meets the celluloid

Worth It
Jun 11, 2011
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What would you do if you saw a car-tire come to life and murder people by telekinetically exploding their heads? Ya, purchase I know, urticaria as if that would ever happen, right? Well, it does happen in the horror/comedy, Rubber.

We start with a man holding dozens of binoculars in the middle of the desert. A car pulls up, the trunk opens and out comes a man dressed in a sheriff’s outfit. He walks towards the camera and delivers a pointed monologue that sets up what this movie is really all about.

“It’s an homage to ‘no reason’, that most powerful element of style.”  He walks away and we find a large group of people standing where the camera’s pov was. He wasn’t talking to you or I. He was talking to this audience in the desert who are about to watch a movie through binoculars. We now know that we are watching a film within a film. What happens next is discovered by this random group of observers who are looking out on the horizon with their binoculars. An old junkyard tire comes to life, lifting itself up on its tread and rolling itself through the dusty plains. His name is, Robert.

As Robert rolls through the California desert he discovers he can destroy things with psychic powers. He sees a hare and begins to shake and convulse until, “BLAM!”, hare guts fly everywhere. He rolls away, seemingly, with a sense of demented pride. That’s right, Robert is a complete psychopath. Eventually, he comes across a motel beside the lonely desert road. Here the cast of characters opens up and a real story begins to take shape. One by one, people’s head’s are mysteriously exploding and the police can’t seem to figure it out. But the son of the motel-owner sees the tire kill someone and is trying to warn everybody. Finally, the sheriff has no choice but to believe, as Robert kills a man in front of him. The tire runs off and continues a gruesome killing spree while police try desperately to stop the homocidal circle of rubber. Of course the ending is as absurd as the rest of the film. Though, I have to say, as crazy and mental as it is, Rubber is smart, clever and hugely entertaining.

What really makes this movie is how it continually incorporates the live-desert audience. These scenes are funny, packed with wit and as much a part of the story as is what happens with Robert the tire. Be warned though, the scenes with rubber Robert are over-the-top violent and bloody. If you can’t stomach seeing head after head explode in plain view, then you probably want to avoid this one. That said, Quentin Dupieux (writer/director) does an amazing job at keeping this gory killing spree light, funny and off-beat while clearly articulating a thoughtful existential subtext. It is ‘theatre of the absurd’ delivered through the medium of modern cinema and I, for one, loved it. Along with being one of the most original and refreshing films of the last decade, the acting is great, the cinematography is artful and the directing is pitch-perfect. I particularly loved the very last shot. It is deliciously wicked and witty. When you see it, you’ll know what I mean.

Rubber was recently released on DVD (June 07, 2011). So, if you enjoy an existential examination of the absurd with lots of laughs (and blood) then you should get your hands on Rubber. Just don’t piss him off.

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Craig the Critic

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