A perfectly surreal experience that doesn’t feel the need to spoon-feed a story to you.
Welcome back to another Saturday Night B-Movie review. Last time out we reviewed Umberto Lenzi’s cannibal film Eaten Alive! This time out we review Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber. A film about a homicidal car tire. Yep, we went there!
Yes, this film is all about a sentient car tyre that decides to use its newly formed telekinetic power to find the woman that it loves and no man, woman, beer bottle or crow is going to get in its way… I mean I just wrote that and have watched the film a number of times and I still cannot quite believe what I have just said. It is utterly mental and this time in the best possible way. For those who do not know about it, well strap in as you are in for a hell of a ride.
Next week I am reviewing The Blob (1958) for the blog and while that is an utter classic, I felt we should go a bit more modern this week. So when I thought of The Blob I tried to think of a film that was similar to it in a weird kind of way and thus I remember Rubber! Of course, it is pretty hard to forget Rubber after you watch it. It is as memorable as a B-movie horror-comedy can get with the premise above.
Rubber is no joke awe-inspiring. This is a concept that SHOULD only work for a short film, this should not be able to span an entire feature film length, and yet it does and it the best thing about it? It does so with the greatest of ease. One reason for this is the utterly absurd concept that continually evolves into chaos.
If that could not get any weirder, we start the film with chairs on an empty desert road. A car arrives, to seemingly meet a man holding over a dozen of binoculars. The driver knocks over every chair, quite slowly as what looks like a sheriff gets out of the boot of the car. Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella) then goes on a soliloquy about how things happen for no reason and for eventually for the group that is revealed to be there to enjoy the film. They are to watch the events that are to unfold from a great distance as they act if there will be sound or if it will be in black and white.
It is utterly incomprehensible. Just what on earth is going on? Then our half-buried protagonist arises from the sand to begin. Yet as you laugh, you are also compelled to keep watching. Just where is this film going with that start? You ask so many questions and yet we know as the film keeps going that the answers will not come. You don’t want them to come either. You want the mystery, but eventually, the truth hit you, as the sheriff says in the opening “it happens for no reason” and for me, that’s the best answer for Rubber. Ask all the questions you want, you get that answer and that’s fine, more than fine in fact. Keep the mystery.
When Robert (oh that’s the tyres name by the way) sees a tyre burning facility his rage to wide and unforgiving and Lieutenant Chad has to end this murder spree, but who will get who? This is as much of a story as we get and the nods to other horror and famous films are a joy that is effectively the cherry on top of a great dessert. Is this a simple story? Yes, but we will get into why that is the case.
The cinematography is probably the unsung hero in the piece. Filmed in the Californian desert it has been short beautifully. If there wasn’t a crazy tyre rolling about, you would go there in an instant. But the ending sequence is so wonderful that if it involved humans it would be getting plaudits. Tracking and wondering just where the final destination is going to be, and when it is revealed you will be furious there was never a secret, but also happy. This is a one-off, it has to be.
The beauty of making a tyre the sentient being in the film is that it has no face, it merely moves and then stops moving and so on. So, when it stops and looks in the mirror we as the audience are projecting into it what we think it is doing and that is quite smart from a story standpoint. Dupieux gives us the basic story the plotlines and we with our faceless lead fill in the rest of the gaps. The tyre stands still, we wonder what it is thinking or trying to look at, it moves towards somewhere, we think that perhaps it is going to a specific person. A perfectly surreal experience that doesn’t feel the need to spoon-feed a story to you, it allows the audience to be creative, to enjoy and to experience.
The main takeaway from Rubber is that it is as free as a film could be. It is so open-ended that if you watch it with someone else, that person would have a completely different take from it than yourself and that is beautiful in an odd cinematic type of way. As mentioned Dupieux stated in interviews, that you make Rubber your own experience. A great fun times viewing is in store for those who watch it and this really is a film that you should watch.
Rating – ★★★★★