‘Rubber’ – Movie Review.

19 Jun

I thrive on weird films. In most cases, it’s the stranger the better for me when it comes to movies, but with that said it would take an absolute masterpiece to have a film work based on absurdity alone. With that in mind, let us consider a film about a serial killer tyre with psychic powers.

Rubber opens up with a man explaining to a group of people how familiar classics of cinema, such as E.T., Love Story and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre make no sense when you think about it. With that in mind, the aforementioned crowd grab their binoculars and turn to gaze at a tyre in the distance. The tyre, later credited as ‘Robert’, rises up out of the desert sands. He rolls around, squishes a plastic bottle and a scorpion, and eventually discovers his telekinetic powers. He proceeds to blow up a glass bottle, a rabbit, a crow and eventually a man’s head. So begins his murderous rampage!

The film embraces its weirdness, and runs (rolls?) with it. Aside from the main, eh, character, Rubber exudes strangeness. The concept of the audience within the film is an interesting one. It’s taken for granted that they represent us, the viewers, in as far as their reactions appear to mirror our own. The various people each have their own individual reactions to what they’re seeing: some complain about the lack of action, while others yet praise the uniqueness of what they’re seeing. The sheriff and, I suppose, lead human character often acknowledges that they’re acting in a movie: he orders his officer to shoot him, to prove his point.

Reality is questioned throughout – characters suddenly find themselves to be holding stuffed alligators, Robert falls in love with a pretty French girl (and inconspicuously watches her shower) and the ending just drinks crazy juice out of a clown shoe. The film manages to make us empathise with a mute piece of rubber – he clearly has emotions. He appears to have fallen in love with the girl, and he appears to murder a few people out of spite. He enjoys watching aerobics videos, having a dip in the pool and he even takes a shower at one point. Even though he is clearly a psychopathic killer, we feel for him because he’s small and voiceless.

Robert outside his love interest’s motel room.

So what does the film mean? It certainly has some underlying point to it; Rubber is the stereotypical ‘film studies-student’ movie in that it contains an undercurrent of something. My impression of the film is that it serves to be a critique of Hollywood and commercialism. I interpret the scene where the audience viciously devours the turkey to be an attack on mainstream blockbusters: the turkey is a Michael Bay film. Those who eat it fall ill and die, representing perhaps the dullness of the mind viewing such films may cause. However, the lone man who refuses to munch on the dead bird is ‘the fan of indie films’, and he in turn helps the film later on.

But like I said, it takes an outstanding film to be able to ride the crazy train all the way, and Rubber is far from this. My main problem with the film is its length: it lasts for 82 minutes, and frankly it begins to drag around halfway through. Now it’s not due to lack of patience on my part, it just gets a little bit dull. Rubber is a one-joke film and while it is a unique and quite funny one, it’s simply not good enough to last as long as it does. They could cut a lot of filler from this film, rearrange things a bit and make a mind-blowing, concise and utterly fantastic 20-minute short, which would be a guaranteed cult masterpiece. But as it stands, it is merely good.

With this movie, Quentin Dupieux manages to balance college playwright tendencies with an air of David Lynch-esque dreaminess and lots of over-the-top cheap gore effects. For the most part it works, and is without a doubt a very clever movie. It is such an odd film that it demands to be viewed purely on the basis that there is nothing else quite like it. However, for many Rubber will simply be too big a pill to swallow. But everyone else can follow Robert’s absurdity, and eagerly await the heavily hinted-at sequel. In short, watch it! It’s quirky, fun and one of a kind.

Simon says:  Slightly tyresome, but wheely good.

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