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Rubber

May 26, 2011

Thought I’d try my hand at some short reviews.

Initially shown at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, and enjoying only a limited release subsequently, Rubber was written and directed by Quentin Dupieux, also known as Mr. Ozio, the French electro-techno musician and record producer who gave the world the famous “Flat Beat“, widely seen through the Levis advert featuring the charming puppet Flat Eric who bobbed his head in time with the tune. The critical reception for Rubber has been very divisive, as one would expect from a film that is about a car tyre that suddenly comes to life in an American desert and embarks on a murderous rampage using its psychokinetic ability of causing people’s heads to explode.

The premise cannot be faulted; succeeding on bizarre originality alone, but there is a little more to Rubber than merely the story of the “Robert” the tyre. The film also features a cast of spectators, a group of people standing in the desert ostensibly watching the very same film (albeit within the film) via binoculars and commenting critically on the proceedings. This satirical, surrogate audience both observes and interacts with the other characters and plot of Rubber and they/we are addressed in the opening of the film by another character delivering a monologue to explain that films happen for “no reason” and that this central idea informs the ensuing events. What follows is an absurdist comedy aimed at playfully deconstructing various filmmaking conventions by way of a bizarre B-movie tale.

The film is quite beautifully shot, it looks very slick and well put together, and the early scenes where the tyre is learning to move around and begin its journey are fantastic. Unsurprisingly however, this idea doesn’t maintain well for the entire 85 minute duration of the film so it’s left to the role of the spectators/audience within Rubber to carry the majority of the movie and, unfortunately, they are not nearly as effective or as intriguing as Robert. It isn’t clear whether the flat and unfunny delivery of what should be comedy moments from these characters is deliberate, an extra layer of absurdity, or merely a common, garden-variety failing on the part of the performers and director. Either way, it makes for a tedious viewing experience beyond the first half hour whereupon you can feel confident that you’ve “got” what Rubber is trying to do but have an additional hour to sit through nonetheless.

Rubber depends heavily on whether its audience will buy into the very apt quote that it is “Roger Corman meets Samuel Beckett”. Whilst it cannot be faulted for its originality it felt like a brilliant short film needlessly extended and to its overall detriment. That said, those who are curious about it could do worse than to check it out.

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6 comments

  1. My. Thoughts. Exactly.

    I went in with perhaps too high of hopes for it, and beyond the very original premise felt it dragged on for far too long. As you said, a short film extended well beyond its capabilities.


  2. “Corman! Corman! Little dribble of chocolate….”


  3. I like the critical synchronicity we’re enjoying there, Young ‘un.

    I have seen some gushing reviews for Rubber but I was determined not to get thrown by them and pretend to like it more than I did. Bit of Emperor’s New Clothes there, if you ask me.


  4. Kenny, do you have that Murray Roman tape? Goddamn, it’s been too long since I last heard it.


  5. There are no doorways in lafayette. No idea where the tape is. I was hoping you had a steer on that one.


  6. Alas, no.



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