‘Rubber’ is about a tyre. A homicidal, psychokinetic, and psychopathic tyre named Robert. “He” awakens and makes his way across the desert in America, squashing a bottle and a bug before coming across a glass bottle that he just can’t crush.
In a fit of frustration he suddenly discovers he has telekinetic powers when he explodes the bottle with the power of “thought”. It isn’t long before he uses his new found powers on an unsuspecting rabbit and a crow before moving on to bigger, more people shaped victims…
In some ways the secondary story running through the film is of far more importance; that of the audience. Some films push at the fourth wall – this one takes a bulldozer to it and completely decimates it. The film opens with a car being driven towards a man with a briefcase standing in the desert. When the car stops a man gets out of the boot dressed as a police officer.
He walks up to us, the viewer, and talks directly into camera, asking what the reason was for various moments in well-known films, such as “Why was E.T. brown?” The answer is “no reason”. This sets the film up nicely as it’s a warning of what’s to come – if you’re someone who needs a reason, a purpose to a film, you will likely hate ‘Rubber’.
There is no point to the film, other than showing the wonders of a maniacal tyre on the rampage. Or so we are meant to believe.
We discover that the cop is not in fact talking to us, but to another audience within the film who are watching what we’re seeing through binoculars. This inevitably leads to a lot of inside jokes and some serious nods and winks as the film goes on.
And boy does it go on.
At 85 minutes the story drags in places and seems to take forever to get somewhere, but there is a reward for sticking with it.
For a film so silly ‘Rubber’ is incredibly well crafted, with some beautiful cinematography, and a score that helps to push the film out of simple bad B-movie territory. And it’s a good thing too as those slow moments happen throughout the story, with only the visuals to pull you along. Obviously this will appeal more to those that are really into their movies rather than the general viewer.
But for everyone the way in which this film is put together will ensure a connection is made to the tyre, odd as that sounds. The expressions and emotions of an inanimate object are artfully done to the point where you will have no trouble knowing what’s going through Robert’s “mind”.
Yes it’s ridiculous, yes it’s silly and even a little frustrating at times, but ‘Rubber’ is a worthy watch and may surprise a number of viewers. The ending is a tad disappointing but is certainly unexpected.
With some clever commentary about the role of audience in events, as well as the risks of dismissing reality for the sake of entertainment, there is a lot to take from this film if you read between the lines. That is if you can get past the whole “tyre goes on a killing spree” thing. Then again that may sell the film to you all on its own.