Reviewed by Andrew Kasch
Starring Robert, Wings Hauser, Jack Plotnick, Remy Thorne, Roxane Mesquida
Directed by Quentin Dupieux
There once was an automobile tire named Robert that spontaneously gained consciousness in the middle of the desert. As he rolled around, he quickly discovered he had the power to make things explode with his mind. So what’s an inanimate tire with telekinetic powers to do? Easy: Go on a killing spree.
Why? No reason.
That’s pretty much the plot of Rubber, a bizarre slice of counter-culture cinema by Quentin Dupieux. Beginning with the single most brilliant monologue in movie history, the film traces Robert’s path of destruction as he roams the street of a desert town and makes people’s heads explode.
A concept like this seems better suited to a short film than a feature – and there are times when it comes dangerously close to wearing out its tread – but Dupieux keeps things interesting by going completely meta with the script.
We’re treated to an audience of desert-dwelling tourists who watch “the movie” through a pair of binoculars and do a running commentary and a pissed-off town sheriff trying to convince the cast that they’re actually stuck in a film.
A few more absurd twists (which I won’t give away) happen, but the majority of the film follows the tire and a whole lot of Scanners moments.
Yes, it’s a one-joke movie but one that’s undeniably well made. Dupieux makes the most of his low budget with a wicked eye for the camera, and expertly timed gags, FX and performances make Rubber more art-house than Troma. As a result, we have a bona fide midnight movie handled with enough solid direction to avoid the “Look-at-me! I’m-a-wacky-cult-film!” vibe that usually sinks like-minded flicks. Rubber definitely isn’t for everyone, but those who love their cinema weird and subversive will get a real kick out of it.
At the very least, it’s the best killer tire movie we’ve seen yet.
3 1/2 out of 5
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