Tuesday 19 April 2011


Yep, it's the movie about a killer tyre. Watch the trailer and then read my review, next...

Okay, bear with me now. When an abandoned car tyre rises up from the dirt of the desert, he starts to cause mayhem by blowing up the heads of the local population with his telekinetic powers. Watching these events unfold are a group of regular people using binoculars to keep a safe distance, but when their numbers start to diminish, a conspiracy is uncovered. Can the local law enforcement stop the tyre in his tracks before all hell breaks loose?

People will choose to watch Rubber for one reason (the promise of an evil car tyre) but those expecting something like Christine meets Scanners might be surprised with the final result. There's actually a whole lot more to the story of the tyre (for ease, let's call him what they do in the trailer, Robert) then first meets the eye. Why he's committing these crimes it's hard to say (at one point he looks on at a huge tyre fire, essentially the genocide of his people), but really if you're questioning what you're seeing, you're not really getting the point.

The basic premise may be a bit weird, but really it's not so bizarre that it needs to keep tearing down the fourth wall boundary with such reckless abandon. One member of the viewing audience is chastised for filming the events, told that what he's doing is "piracy", and the chief officer in the investigation tries to halt the film when he thinks there's no audience watching. It's a unique exploration into the cinema experience that comments on our involvement as both voyeurs and critics, but despite raising some interesting viewpoints it struggles to come to any conclusion as to what it all means.

Although the earlier scenes have your attention by being so bafflingly unpredictable, events become a little bit (let's use the puns up while we still can) tiresome as the premise gets stretched past breaking point and the film loses its momentum. As the opening monologue proudly states, this is an homage to the "no reason", and I'll happily testify it succeeds at being that. As a form of entertainment it's less successful, never quite finding the right balance of horror, comedy and creativity.

Ultimately it's a fun, goofy ride, and in Robert has one of the more interesting big screen sociopaths of recent cinema. He's a homicidal, voyueristic maniac who stalks a beautiful French girl, and as one of the chorus states as Robert spies on her showering, "this is the first time I've ever identified with a tyre". As an attempt to try something new this experiment is certainly a one of a kind, but although the existence of such an inventive protagonist may prove to be a talking point, after viewing the film there's little intrigue left. Still, it is a beautifully shot film that makes the most of its desert town locale, and what little music there is (provided by the sometime Mr Oizo, director Quentin Dupieux) works in a jarring and contrasting way.

Certainly not a film for everyone (definitely not one that will appeal to a wide audience), but there's enough humourous moments of reckless invention to appeal to fans of independent cinema. A curious beast with highs and lows, it's probably the best metatextual exploration of the lifespan of a psychotic tyre afflicted with telekinetic powers you'll see this week. Hell, perhaps even this fortnight.


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