Directed by Quentin Dupieux.
Starring Stephen Spinella, Roxanne Mesquida, Jack Plotnick and Wings Hauser.
In the California desert, a group of spectators watch through binoculars as a tyre come to life and starts to go on a killing spree.
It does help if a film makes sense. Some of the biggest film names to date have some parts that are never explained, but no one really thinks about. So how could someone turn this concept of chance into a feature length film. French Director Quentin Dupieux seems to think he can with his new film, Rubber.
The film can be explained rather easily, and then again it can’t. The main premise of the film is a tyre coming to life (a tyre with the power to blow things up with its mind, not to forget) and starts to go around destroying anything it can find, from bottles to people. But there’s also the other narrative that intertwines with the film that completely breaks down the fourth wall with the characters in the film. There’s an audience watching the events of the tyre unfold, yet they are also characters in the film.
Yes, it’s a very odd concept, isn’t it? But it’s not like this was truly unexpected. At the start of the film, Stephen Spinella’s cop role informs us, the audience, and the in film audience that what we’re about to see has no reason to it and that a lot of other films have elements of ‘no reason’ in them too (“Why was ET brown?”). Already it is clear that the film is similar in approach to that of Monty Python, or to a better example, Luis Buñuel. The only thing at the mercy of satire is the film itself. Whilst some of the self aware dialogue will give a giggle, the film on the whole is very ploddy with a long wait between anything interesting happening. After seeing a tyre roll through a desert for a few minutes, you’re craving for him to murder something already.
Visually, the film is easy on the eyes, with some fantastic shallow focus techniques. I suppose filming in a desert gives you more freedom to concentrate on framing the shots perfectly. The main story of the tyre killing anyone in its track continues in a fairly predictable manner (well as predictable as it can for a fairly unpredictable idea). Just as it is with these sorts of films, it’s the child that believes the tyre is alive, whilst the police are left baffled by the random killings. But it’s the concept of an audience within an audience that will probably stick with after watching this.
Rubber could easily have been scaled down into short film just about the tyre killing people, but it tries to expand itself a bit too much. Even the inclusion of a fourth wall breaking second narrative doesn’t really keep the interest levels pumped up as much as you would first think, with this technique being used to ironically patch over parts of the film that are clichéd or lacking sense, or no reason at all.
Will Preston is a student at the University of Portsmouth. He writes for various blogs (including his own website), presents a weekly radio show on PURE FM and makes various short films.
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