Films have the potential to do anything. In cinemas you can escape reality for a few hours and be transported anywhere and for that I love cinema. All that being true, cinema is like music in the respect that pretty much that can be done has been done. This is how we get movements and styles repeating themselves, going in cycles. Anything that tries to be new and original will fall into one of two camps; it will be either be something that recycles the old or something that could only be described as insane. Me telling you about this can only mean that something bat-shit insane has been released, and it has, the film in question is Rubber directed by Quentin Depieux.
Before I synopsise the film I have to say that I am not making this up, this is genuinely what the film rubber is about. Rubber is the story of Robert, a tire who wakes up in the middle of the desert and seeks to playfully get on with his life. But it’s not going to be so simple because in trying to get out the desert Robert discovers he has power to make things explode, he starts with small animals and because of the way in which he is treated by humans he eventually tries it on them too with brilliant head popping results.
It speaks volumes of the direction that you can feel the emotions of the tire which leads him down this most murderous of paths. To be able to read the personality and emotion of a mute, inanimate object is an impressive accomplishment. But with the lead character being mute it means you have to interpret rather than be told, but the way I see it is that this is a film of two distinct halves. The first half is our rubber friend discovering everything for the first time, it’s a celebration of the simple pleasures in life and the second half which starts when Robert falls in love with the character played by Roxane Mesquida. That’s when the film transforms from a film contemplating all the small things to a rather strange horror film where an inanimate rubber object goes on a massive killing spree.
Rubber also has some of smartest fourth wall breaking that I have ever seen in film thanks to the film jumping freely across the lines of reality and art. This is done in the other plot strand in which a group of spectators watch the events and comment on how they think it is going. There is also a police officer who jumps between the ‘story’ which the spectators are viewing from afar as he delivers a monologue about how pretty much everything in cinema and life happens for no reason and being the lead investigator in the strangest of cases. His role reaches its heady peak when he constantly points out that everything that is happening isn’t real. Rubber doesn’t as much break down the fourth wall it makes mince meat out of it, both literally and metaphorically.
Rubber is an incredibly clever film, but it’s also a stupid film. I don’t mean to confuse you but we are talking about a film which stars a tire with serious bloodlust. When I stupid I don’t mean that as an insult, what I mean is that this has all the B-movie tropes. It has the ridiculous plot, acting so bad from that it seemed like they were just reading it from a piece of paper from some whereas others where seeming improvising with results varying between brilliant and awkward, this is especially true of Stephen Spinella and Wings Hauser.
But worst of all it’s the films ability to entice and enrage. I believe that to be the case for two reasons, alot of people who watch films like to be able to understand what is going on, but as it states at the beginning “this is a movie celebrating no reason”. Therefore those people out there who only like films which create some illusion of reality will hate this film. Rubber is also a slow film. During the first half of this film is where this is most true thanks to all that celebrating the mundane and every day, but the director/writer consciously as is playfully hinted at thanks to the spectator feedback.
Enough with the criticisms, one of the problems I have had with alot of recent releases is that there were either predictable to the point of cliché or they subvert your expectations by taking you into something that ruined the whole experience. That isn’t true here, it might just be me but I didn’t really know what was going to happen. I watched Rubber with wide-eyed enthusiasm on the proceedings that were unfolding on screen thanks to the sheer uniqueness of the film. I was thrilled by the originally rather than numbed by familiarity.
As unpredictable as the events are, and as brilliant as the script and direction is by Gerard Depieux, this is still a very weird film. Therefore it is sad to report that this film is most definitely not for everybody. This puts me in a funny position as I believe this to be a film that everybody has to see at least once. But if you anything like me then you will find a film that you will keep on coming back time and time again this is thanks to a script that is equal amounts intellectual and plain stupidity. The article that will be remembered most gleefully from me is the tone. It is a violent film at the best of times but the playful tone born from twinning the craziness with the soundtrack by Mr Oizo & Gaspard Auge had me smiling throughout the whole 85 minute running time. That and the brilliant ending helped a great deal too.