This week Rubber rolls (sorry) into theaters, though it’s already available on VOD and iTunes. What has been summed up as the tale of a killer psychic tire is both a horror film, and a post modern dialogue on how narrative films work. It’s also something of a joke. Directed by French musician Quentin Dupieux, the film is the sort of prankish exercise that will divide audiences based on their tolerance for cheekiness. Check our review below…

The Players:

  • Directed, Written and Cinematography by: Quentin Dupieux
  • Starring: Stephen Spinella, Jack Plotnick, Wings Hauser, Roxane Mesquida, David Bowe, a tire
  • Original Music by: Quentin Dupieux and Gaspard Augé

The Plot:

Introduced by Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella), we’re told that movie often do things for “no reason,” which is the entree into this world. The film is then divided between a group of people watching the movie (headed up by Wings Hauser), and the story, that of a killer tire who’s stalking a pretty french woman (Roxane Mesquida). The tire has psychic powers that allow it to make people’s heads explode.

The Good:

  • The Opening: Spinella’s entrance is the moment that anyone annoyed with it should leave the theater, because it sets the tone perfectly for what’s about to happen. And though the film never is as amusingly absurd (partly because it has to tell a narrative that the film almost rejects telling), the opening is just weird and pointless enough to make sure this cult film will always have an audience.
  • The Tire: Though it may be hard not to view the film as an exercise, that Dupieux was able to give an inanimate object personality through its movement and the soundtrack is pretty impressive. To be engaged by watching a tire roll takes some skill.
  • The Absurdity: Though the film decides to not really build characters (for better or ill), the actors in the film being watched by Wings Hauser and his band of viewers really only act when there’s an audience. The second there’s no audience, Spinella’s Lt. Chad would rather be doing anything but figuring out a murder mystery.
  • The Length: At 82 minutes, the film is smart in not trying to go any longer than it has to. 82 Minutes is just barely feature length, and if the film tried to go any longer, it would be painful.
  • Wings Hauser, Jack Plotnick and Stephen Spinella:  Wings Hauser doesn’t have much to do, but his presence is perfect for a film like this, while both Plotnick and Spinella hit the right notes for the movie they’re in.
  • The Soundtrack: Dupieux must be a talented musician, because the film works partly because of the score and audio ambiance.

The Bad:

  • Lack of Commitment: Instead of making a movie about a killer tire, Dupieux instead made a movie about a movie about a killer tire. This allows the whole thing to be viewed as a goof. Rubber is two movies, the movie and the movie about the movie, and both are interesting (and probably short film subjects) but sandwiched together it dulls both. And by commenting on the absurdity of a movie about a killer psychic tire, the film puts a hat on a hat.
  • The Killer Tire has One Move: The idea of a killer tire is great, but what it does is vibrate and make either small animals or people’s heads explode. Though this too may be part of the joke, by the third or fourth head explosion, the violence no longer has any meaning, nor effectiveness. Which makes the horror aspects of the film dull.
  • Anti-Narratives Only Get You So Far: When a film announces it’s about “no reason” it’s a bold move, but by the end of the film this weightlessness catches up because eventually the commentary offered becomes repetitive.

The idea of Rubber is probably better than the film of Rubber, and for that the film will live in some sort of infamy. But when the film works – which it does in fits and starts – it really makes you wish that the whole film didn’t seem like the work of a dilettante.

Rating: 6.5/10

Rubber hits theaters April 1, 2011. The film is already available on VOD and on iTunes.


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