Rubber (2010) movie poster

(2010) director Quentin Dupieux
viewed: 06/18/2011

The protagonist/anti-hero awakens, half-buried in sand in a godforsaken desert, unearths himself and wobbles forth. As he encounters things, first bottles and cans, he crushes and destroys them. He finds he has the psychic capability of making things explode, bunnies, birds, and more than anything else, human heads. And though he finds a lovely French girl to follow around, for pretty much the rest of the world, all he’s got is doom.

Did I mention that he’s a tire? A radial?

Written and directed by Quentin Dupieux, better known as Mr. Oizo, an electronic/techno musician, Rubber is more a ready-made cult film than any simple other genre reduction.  It’s sort of a horror film, sort of a comedy, not exactly a parody.  It’s absurdist.  Which is something that I typically can appreciate.

But Dupieux works the story from a “meta” angle, framing the whole thing from the first shot, in which Stephen Spinella, dressed as a police officer, climbs from the trunk of a slow-moving car that has carefully knocked over a series of chairs and addresses the audience directly, “breaking the wall,”  as it were.  His monologue, which reiterates the absurdity with explanations of how films often have things that happen for “no reason”, then shows that there is an audience within the film, watching and suffering from afar.

This is the film’s real weakness.  It moves from truly absurd to overly explained.  It’s like if you have to explain a joke, it’s no longer funny…

The film looks quite good, shot with a keen cinematographic eye on digital video, it’s aesthetically appealing, using analog effects, eschewing computer effects.  And Dupieux definitely seems to enjoy exploding  the heads of characters, showing several in gruesome detail.

But ultimately, it’s not as clever as it would like to be.  And ironically, I think if it just told its story in the straight-forward, unironic tonality of its interior narrative, it could have been somewhat sublime perhaps.  Who knows?

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