Tearing Up Hollywood Pavement

Rubber (June 10, 2011*)     3.5/5

Written & Directed by Quentin Dupieux (Magnet Releasing)

Rubber features this year’s funniest opening sequence.  A cop, previously encased in a trunk, pops out to explain to us the idea of “no reason” in cinema; the concept that films need to abandon logic in certain cases, therefore enabling the plot to advance and story to be developed, while not worrying about the little things.  This film itself is one without logic, or any attempt to explain what it has to offer us.  It is an “HO-mage,” as the cop would say, to the “no reason.”  And how purely illogical it is.

In southern California, a typical, black tire comes to life and realizes it has psychic powers.  It then goes on a mad killing spree, observed by several spectators with binoculars, who believe they are watching a live movie being played out before their eyes.  Or something like that.  We never really know.  But they do play a part in the slasher-like “film,” nonetheless.  And as Rubber continues, so do we.  Like the tire antihero, the filmmakers have psychological power over us; bizarre as it may seem at the time.  Indeed Rubber is quite an involving film, and no doubt attempts to convey the idea that moving screen images can have quite an effect on one in the “real” world, no matter how ridiculous those images may be.  The whole thing never quite works as a comedy, nor as a horror film, but it does make for a humorous, suspenseful tribute to the absurdist picture.  Rubber’s wit, when present, is clever and self-aware, and the gore is … well, pretty much the same.

The storytelling techniques utilized by writer and director Quentin Dupieux are quite funny and innovative, although they remain just as strange as the film’s premise.  And that premise, for better or worse, is stretched as far as it can go.  Rubber runs out of steam toward its midsection, and although it recovers with a number of hilariously weird scenes, it is never completely satisfying.  With every applause-worthy moment comes another that is just plain dull.  The film could’ve also used a greater abundance of those Frankenstein-type story elements.  A small portion of “tragedy” would’ve given audience members more to think about, as well as introduce another satiric aspect.  But satisfaction is not Rubber’s purpose … it’s purpose is to not have one at all.  And on that front, the film is undeniably a success.

Although it could’ve used a little more of that opening scene magic and a few more head explosions, it is hard to not recommend a film that has a tire for a protagonist, as well as the idea that an inanimate object can have more personality than half the human characters onscreen today.  Not only that, but Rubber seems to have something else in store.  Maybe a metaphor for the film industry, that as we blindly watch mainstream stupidity from behind “binoculars,” there are actually intelligent films out there that can floor us, or in Rubber’s case, a maniacal minion who wants to feed us poisoned chicken.  And if the film’s symbolic conclusion is any indication, with foreign talents like Quentin Dupieux, hope is not entirely lost for Hollywood.  Now that is mind blowing.

* Video Release Date


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