Who says originality is dead in cinema? One of the higher concepts released this year comes B-movie thriller, Rubber from French director, Quentin Dupieux. There’s no other way to really explain this other than that the movie tells the tale of a sentient car tyre, seemingly hell bent on killing every living thing it sees, from humans to wildlife, in and around a bleak Californian backdrop.
All the while we inexplicably have an audience, resembling all the standard stereotypes you’d generally find in any typical cinema, who are watching as the chaos unfolds from the sidelines. As the film progresses, it’s made clear taht the only one who thinks this is some existential make-believe exercise is the mysterious cop who introduces the film, played by Stephen Spinella.
Though Rubber is inventive, stylish and pretty well filmed, even involving a visually pleasing stop motion effect for the tyre’s animation, it is perhaps just too nonsensical for its own good. It was like watching a nightmarish version of Albert Lamorisse’s excellent, The Red Balloon just y’know with a black tyre. It also wasn’t nearly as funny as it probably thought it was. One of my main problems however was the film felt a little patronising in parts – yes we get it, it’s not suppose to make any bloody sense. I doubt however any audience who will likely see this in the selected cinemas it’s released on would need t be reminded of this every five minutes.
It was clearly evident that the director has a huge passion for cinema, which is obviously an admirable quality for any young director, but I think the homages he was trying to pull off in Rubber made it more haphazard, proving almost detrimental to the film’s success. There were obvious nods to Spielberg’s works such as Jaws, little bit of the Coen Brothers’ No Country For Old Men, even elements of The Twilight Zone. The main problem however being it felt more like an Aphex Twin music video than something that resembled engaging, clever, storytelling.
You can’t help but wonder after Rubber ends, where the last 90 minutes of your life went. Have you been on drugs? Did you have a little too much to drink? No, you just watched a complete mess of a film, which had no direction, no sense, no purpose and no comedic merit to back up those shortcomings. Originality is one thing, quality is completely another.