Directed by Quentin Dupieux
"Why is ET gray?....No reason"
"Why is the president killed by someone he's never met in JFK?....No reason"
"Why does Robert the tire kill people with his telekinetic powers?.....No reason"
There is a lot of "no reason" in movies Quentin Dupieux through the character Lt Chad likes to tell us in the opening of Rubber. I'd never really given it great thought. Filmmakers slip in a deux ex machinas and you rarely question it. Maybe even a twist that makes no sense. But rarely does a movie go full frontal no reason like Rubber does. If the movie is trying to either make a statement about no reason in films or exists for no reason, you be the judge. All I can say is that it's an absurd motion picture that I thoroughly enjoyed. And I'm here to give you the reasons why I think it's one of the best of 2011.
At the end of the day Rubber is about the birth and journey of a tire that has telekinetic powers. But somehow it's also about the audience's perception of what they're seeing. Rubber has both as the audience we see is not us, but actual spectators in a hill in the middle of a desert town armed with binoculars watching this killer tire's life as it unfolds. Lost yet?
This is a meta and surreal film that reminds me why I love independent film. French filmmaker Dupieux takes Austin weird to a whole new dimension with Rubber. This is the first time in a long time I've seen a movie that's just a likeable oddity. It looks indie-ish and has a bunch of no name actors and a soundtrack that emotes the feelings of our viciously evil tire.
Rubber treads on the road of hilarity, 4th wall hypnosis and goretastic awesomness and is the most original movie I've seen in quite a while. The neo cinephiles will eat up this kookiness, regular moviegoers beware. The film is mocking you and you don't know it.
When Robert, an inanimate tire, discovers his destructive telepathic powers, he soon sets his sights on a desert town; in particular, a mysterious woman becomes his obsession.
Honestly, how could I resist not watching a movie about a killer tire? As the movie starts, we see a sheriff breaking the 4th wall and reciting a speech with examples of no reasons in movies. The thing about breaking the 4th wall is it's automatically telling the audience we're going to flip the reality from you for the next 80 or so minutes. You're going to have to decide if the entire flick is a "no reason" film or are we watching a tire kill people for....well....no reason.
You either buy into it or you don't. I did because hell I've never seen a telekinetic "live" tire blow people's heads off. We see Robert the Tire awake and start to wreak havoc across the desert. He starts smashing things like a good tire would and when he can't he uses the power of his mind to blow up random wildlife.
Oh and it's gloriously awesome to see rabbits and birds explode into itsy bits of chunky goodness.
Meanwhile, a group of spectators with binoculars are watching these events unfold and are our sort of voice in the movie. These include a father and son, a wheelchair vet, a few chubby movie geeks, some tweeny girls and a boisterous black woman. As we watch the flick, they comment on exactly what we're thinking. It's a weird telepathic bond. An example is at one point one of the spectators, a boy says "It's already boring" and his father responds "Don't be so negative. It's just the beginning. It's going to pick up. Just be patient". I was honestly thinking the same thing and I was like "GET OUT OF MIND!!!"
It's this self awareity humor that makes you chuckle and admit the cleverity of it all is something you kinda think is hipster-ish cool. This is a modern day hipster movie with various scenes that will make the highest stoner laugh.
Soon our tire sees a hot girl, Sheila driving in a convertible and seamlessly gets obsessed with her. But this isn't before a few victim fodder fuck up our tire accidentally. Note to self: Never mess with a tire with psychic powers. Your Gore-ipedia includes some stellar (non CGI?) exploding heads that are insanely hilarious in that Scanners sort of way. Later in a motel, our tire voyeurs after Sheila and spends a few minutes watching TV?!?!
Yes, we see a tire watching TV (you know he loves the NASCAR).
With the deaths of a few more victims who've pissed off Rob after he sees a genocide on his people, the police are called into action and we get a unique speech from our Sheriff explaining to his deputies that "this isn't real life". Again the 4th wall is breaking down and culminates in our sheriff giving a demonstration of his theory. To say this is off the wall is not doing any justice. There is completely no logic in the movie and to try to understand Rubber is pointless as you watch it. You have to constantly keep reminding yourself that every question you may have should end with the words "no reason".
As the police close in on our berserk tire, an elaborate plan is executed to destroy the tire once and for all. The ending has more metaness in it and the last scenes are clearly a mock on the place where no reason movies come from.
The performances by the spectators (especially Wings Hauser as the wheelchair Vet), our inept sheriff (Stephen Spinella) and an accountant (Jack Plotnick from Reno 911 fame) are all quirky and ambitiously vague. Their performances are straight even though the scenes are completely weird. I must admit, watching Roxanne Mesquida as Sheila gave me a weapon of mass erection.
The film is shot and edited quite well. Sure we know somebody is rolling around the tire as they film but it seems so seamless. The CGI showing the tire spinning on its own is quite extraordinary. We even get a soundtrack that shows the emotion of our tire telling us he's either happy or angry. He may not be a name brand tire, but he's got personality. It's also got the funniest dialogue and odd observations as well. The spectators conversations to each other are like a sitting with Mike, Tom Servo and Croooooooooooooooow!
So what's the prognosis? Is Rubber a movie that exists for no reason or is there something that Dupiex is trying to say? I'm going with the latter though some may disagree. We constantly suspend disbelief when we watch movies from giant transforming robots to blue alien natives. We are asked to do it again with a killer tire that can explode heads. Why is one different than the other? It's not.
Rubber mocks the mockery by giving us scenes that exist for no reason but uber amplifies them into complete outrageousnessness you just go with it. The fact we can empathize with a tire says it all. If say the tire were an animal, the same emotional bond we would have would be the same. Hell I wanted Robert to fuck up anybody who was messing with him. Did I even question I was cheering for a tire?!?! Nope. Why would I?
Rubber is a throwback to all that is awesome about independent film like Linklater, Jarmusch and Kelly. Dupieux may not be on par with those names yet but he's brought back that vibe that percolated in the early 90s. Rubber is a genre film that somehow breaks all genres. I can't even generalize what it exactly is. It's a surreal-meta-weird horror comedy. It made me laugh countless times and made me think the rest of the time. Not a lot of movies can do that.
But the question you want to know is should you watch Rubber? I say yes and for one reason.
We get some side flesh from Sheila
The entire film
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
Rubber is currently on Video in Demand and comes out in theaters 4/1 via Magnet Releasing. Rubber may not be for everyone but if you enjoy watching the non Hollywood fare of indie cinema, Rubber is must see. It's the best movie about a tire that kills people you'll see this year.
Check out the trailer below.
Red Band Trailer