Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Ellen Page And Kate Mara Are 'Tiny Detectives' In Hilarious 'True Detective' Parody Watch: Ellen Page And Kate Mara Are 'Tiny Detectives' In Hilarious 'True Detective' Parody 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood Miles Teller Says Role In 'Divergent' Made Him Feel "Dead Inside," And He Took Movie "For Business Reasons" Miles Teller Says Role In 'Divergent' Made Him Feel "Dead Inside," And He Took Movie "For Business Reasons" First Look At 'The Dying Of The Light,' Paul Schrader Quits Film Over What Nicolas Winding Refn Calls "Artistic Disrespect" First Look At 'The Dying Of The Light,' Paul Schrader Quits Film Over What Nicolas Winding Refn Calls "Artistic Disrespect" New Images From 'Interstellar' Arrive, Christopher Nolan Says The Film Is A "Mirror" Of 'Inception' New Images From 'Interstellar' Arrive, Christopher Nolan Says The Film Is A "Mirror" Of 'Inception' Watch: New Trailer For ‘Kingsman: Secret Service’ Starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson & Taron Egerton Star Watch: New Trailer For ‘Kingsman: Secret Service’ Starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson & Taron Egerton Star Chilly New Banner For Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Explores A Cold New World Chilly New Banner For Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Explores A Cold New World 15 Films That Failed To Hit The 2014 Fall Festival Circuit 15 Films That Failed To Hit The 2014 Fall Festival Circuit Watch: Steven Soderbergh Re-Scores And Changes Steven Spielberg's 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' To Black-And-White Watch: Steven Soderbergh Re-Scores And Changes Steven Spielberg's 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' To Black-And-White Watch: Have A Threesome With Very NSFW Clip From 'Maps To The Stars' With Julianne Moore & John Cusack Watch: Have A Threesome With Very NSFW Clip From 'Maps To The Stars' With Julianne Moore & John Cusack First, Mostly Rave Reviews Arrive For David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' First, Mostly Rave Reviews Arrive For David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' Watch: New Hilarious Red-Band Trailer For 'The Interview' Starring Seth Rogen And James Franco Watch: New Hilarious Red-Band Trailer For 'The Interview' Starring Seth Rogen And James Franco Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

Review: 'Rubber' Is The Convention Defying Movie You Would Expect From A Pic About A Killer Tire

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist March 31, 2011 at 3:44AM

"Rubber" is the story of a tire that gains consciousness and decides to kill. He doesn't talk, dance, or sing, and he doesn't develop any lasting relationships with any humans, animals, or fellow tires. How do you tell a story like this? "Rubber" seems to have already asked that question, which is why the first impression of the film is not of the tire itself, but rather the audience.
1


"Rubber" is the story of a tire that gains consciousness and decides to kill. He doesn't talk, dance, or sing, and he doesn't develop any lasting relationships with any humans, animals, or fellow tires. How do you tell a story like this? "Rubber" seems to have already asked that question, which is why the first impression of the film is not of the tire itself, but rather the audience.

Driven to the desert, a group of varied citizens gather to watch what will end up being the murderous exploits of Robert the tire. A police officer, or perhaps an actor playing a policeman, informs the audience, our capital S surrogates, that they will be watching a film serving as an experiment of sorts. Asking why the tire kills, the film argues, is the same as asking why the title character in "Jaws" kills. Or, even more nebulously, the tire develops lethal telekinesis because sometimes "things happen for no reason."


As we watch the audience watch the tire, the many layers at play bounce against each other. The audience has interacted with the policeman, but the very first scene of the movie is a direct address to the camera. So, we are the audience, but we are not in the desert, and we are not holding the binoculars the audience holds. We also never interacted with the policeman, who, after introducing the film, enters the narrative as a cop leading a task force against the tire that has left a trail of death in its wake. We're not in characters in this movie, right?

The police officer is in hot pursuit of the tire, but seems bewildered by the lack of control he has over the narrative. Nonchalantly driving to the scene of the crime, he finds a dead body that he mistakes for fake. When he informs the fellow officers they are in a movie, they are incredulous, and he orders one of them to shoot him to allow for proof. A bullet enters the officer, but he remains unfazed, claiming it's "movie magic." So how do we explain the blood dripping from his shirt pocket?

"Rubber" feels less like a movie and more like a practical joke. Written and directed by Quentin Dupieux, the narrative seems to be less about preserving an internal consistency and more about challenging the straight line it's supposed to follow. We're led to believe the police officer, who has some control over the story, is some sort of author, but he too becomes perplexed by the direction events are taking. The tire, whose motives aren't spelled out until a wickedly funny coda, seems to be in the process of controlling its own movie. And what is a mainstream movie without sex and violence?

The sex seems like the most dicey bit, until Robert catches a sexy drifter (the exquisite Roxane Mesquida) en route through town. The tire hangs out around the corner and watches her shower, distorting any notion of the female gaze when it later appears, on its own, in the same shower. What feels like the unsettling punchline to this sexual exploration is a scene where the tire sits over the rotting corpse of a victim while watching NASCAR on television.

"Rubber" defies categorization, and for that, the film should be commended. Far more than just a "killer tire" movie, clearly the film is contemptuous of the internal logic to make such an outlandish premise conventionally "work." There will be some digging needed to find the thesis, which is buried under what may or may not be non-sequiturs, not to mention a few can't-resist dumb gags, but the film moves to its own distinct groove. The score, composed by Dupieux and Gaspard Auge (the latter who belongs French house duo known as Justice), keeps the pace moving at a tense, even funky clip, casting doubt as to whether we're hearing the music, or if the tire moves to the beat of his own drum. Either way, "Rubber" is probably the strangest film of the year that will still keep your head bopping. [B]

This article is related to: Foreign Films, Review, Rubber


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates