Rubber: just plain weird.

6 Dec

I heard about Rubber a few years ago. Naturally, the concept of a film about a homicidal tyre appealed to my whimsical side – I imagined it had a lot of potential for stupidity and hilarity.  Which is technically true – it had the potential. Sure, it was shown at the Cannes Film Festival – which should’ve been a bit of a hint, but I wasn’t fazed (I have been known to watch some high-brow films in my time too).


I wanted stupidity.  I had high hopes it’d be a monster truck tyre…there’d be all kinds of whirling around people’s necks until their breath is cut off, bouncing on top of people’s heads and their heads smooshing with eyes popping out and really bad animation, dodgy bouncing sound effects, perhaps a reenactment of the boulder scene from Indiana Jones with a giant tyre …that kind of thing. Alas, no.  This is a serious film – or at least that’s what its director, Quentin Dupieux, was aiming for.

I think the build-up of expectations probably worked against it. Although, that period did include a large portion of time where I completely forgot about its existence, but hey… Anyway, Rubber opens in the middle of a desolate landscape – presumably somewhere in America. Standard. A bunch of observers are brought out to bear witness to the events by some guys wearing police outfits. There’s a rather philosophical cop narrating about life.

Now, if I’m honest, the meaning went over my head entirely. That could either be because I am quite dense, or because I was so uninterested in their yammering that I stopped paying attention. I mean, do we really need to pretend that there’s hidden meanings in everything? For some reason, the action only needs to continue as long as the observers are alive – which isn’t explained. For some reason the cops involved are entirely ridiculous and also aren’t necessarily human. This isn’t explained either.

Actually, come to think of it, the tyre’s random possession/psychokinetic powers aren’t explained either. Since its activity only continues while the observers are alive one can but assume that there’s some nonsense about it being driven by the observers’ will for entertainment. Blah blah blah.  Some hidden meaning.  Blah.  I didn’t sign up for this.

The most memorable parts of the movie are the most absurd points – they actually reminded me a bit of an absurdist play I had to read as part of my English degree. The shower scene with the tyre – which, frankly, was just plain weird. Then the turkey-in-the-motel-room scene. I mean, really, what the actual fuuu are you supposed to think at that point? I guess, in this respect, it had a fair bit in common with some David Lynch films (which I like trying to watch because I like to cling to the hope that one day one will actually make sense) – I think it might actually appeal to his fans, in a way.

On the ‘plus’ side of the scale, the film is well shot – in fact it’s really well done for something so (presumably) low budget. It’s really very photographic at times – there’s a scene where the tyre stops at a puddle to get a drink of water, and it really is reminiscent of an Attenborough documentary. The effects are actually really well done too. I was planning to say I wouldn’t spoil how the tyre kills people because it really wasn’t what I expected but I just re-watched one of the trailers and it’s right there in it. The effects of the tyre willing living objects to explode are actually pretty awesome.

I felt like the director had forgotten what the target market for a film about a killer tyre actually is – or what they’d be looking for. I mean, it had some interesting ideas, but the important part is that I highly doubt anyone will be watching a film called ‘Rubber’ about a homicidal tyre for intellectual reasons.

Moral of this particular story: not every film that has the plot of a B-movie is actually a B-movie.  If you’re looking for arty, boring nonsense then you’ve hit gold, if you’re looking for stupidity and hilarity find the nearest “x versus y” movie and stick with it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: