Rubber was definitely the most unique, original film of 2011. And so far everybody who has seen it either seems to be fascinated by it or repelled/annoyed by it. It’s a horror comedy with postmodernist commentary on filmmaking (and I realize this sentence alone has already made some of you stop reading).
Meet Robert. He is a junkyard tire that becomes self-aware and discovers he has the power to blow up people’s heads. Sounds like the making of a B-movie with lots of wacky, bloody gore? You betcha.
But French director Quentin Dupieux isn’t content to just crank out another bizzare one-note grindhouse film. The early moments when Robert first comes to life and unsteadily, wobbily, starts to roll along draw you in and make you root for this inanimate piece of rubber. You actually feel the same simple joy Robert does when he starts to discover how he can manipulate objects in his environment; it’s like watching a baby or a puppy discover the world. Despite the fact that this black rubber tire has no face and no discernable features, there are multiple moments throughout the film when this tire’s frustration, rage, or desire are palpable.
This movie also has arthouse elements to engage the thoughtful or analytical viewer. They include characters who know they are in a movie getting exasperated with the ones who don’t; characters breaking the fourth wall by talking to the camera; and an opening monologue about how films are full of things happening for “no reason”. But perhaps the most significant aspect is a self-reflexive commentary on today’s movie audiences, with the inclusion of actual spectators equipped with binoculars who are watching the proceedings of the film. In a very early moment of the film, before Robert has come to life, there is a long silent moment where the spectators watch and wait, but nothing at all happens. The character of a young boy says exactly what has just crossed the skeptical movie watcher’s mind: ”Oh. It’s already boring”. (And then something happens.)
Who will like this movie? People who like creative, independent cinema. People who like modern grindhouse films. People who like movies about moviemaking. People who sympathized with the lamp in Spike Jonze’s IKEA commercial despite the announcer telling you not to.
Looking for something different? Check out Rubber today!