Rubber is an absurdist thriller by French Director Quentin Dupieux (more commonly known as Mr. Oizo). It is also a complete deconstruction of the American B-Movie.
Robert is a tire. He has telekinetic powers and can use them to make things explode. So, with an in-film audience watching through binoculars on the horizon, Robert travels across the fringes of the desert and into a small dusty town, blowing up almost everything he comes across – beer bottles, rabbits, and eventually, people’s heads.
With Rubber, nothing quite makes sense, and it’s not supposed to. We’re even told this from the off. But whether intentional or not, the film makes so little sense, it actually starts to make sense. In its own leftfield manner, Rubber’s madness comes full circle, defies logic, and forces us to consider – is it really pointless and just incredibly silly? Or is it actually borderline genius?
Surprisingly, considering the main focus of Rubber is a killer tire which cannot speak, you never feel bored or uninterested in the journey. Frustrated – yes, but never bored.
At times, there are even short periods of genuine tension built from some inventive camerawork and inspired cinematography. Also, how Dupieux manages to make a tire evoke specks of genuine empathy from us, again via inventive camera angles, as well as from the movement of the main character (if you can call it that) and his seedy yet charming actions (excluding blowing people’s heads up of course), really is quite an achievement.
The twists and turns in Rubber are all about breaking the fourth wall. And after the fourth wall is broken, it is rebuilt in a new twisted unrealism, and then smashed down all over again. And again. And again.
It does make you wonder – especially when watching such a wacky film – if artists like Dupieux who decide to deconstruct their influences and the genre’s conventions so heavily, are doing so in a purely derisive fashion? Like an art exhibition consisting of a pickled sheep enclosed in a tank of blue formaldehyde, sitting on a lavatory with a hypodermic syringe stuck in its leg and its mouth open in a scream of agony – you often don’t know whether the creator is trying to genuinely impress and achieve original artistry, or trick accolade from the audience through absolute mockery. Due to Quentin Dupieux previous successes, as well as a genuine display of cinematographic aptitude with Rubber, I assume (and hope) in this case, it’s the former.
Whether it’s a genuine attempt at original artistry or not, with such a zany story along with some technically and creatively astute filmmaking, I’m surprised Rubber hasn’t already gained a colossal cult status.
Maybe, just maybe, we weren’t quite ready for Rubber. And maybe, just like Robert the tire feels, the film is sorely misunderstood and has been wrongly brushed aside as a wanton farce.