RUBBER Review (Blu-ray)
Rubber is the story of personified tire, Robert, who one day comes to life and sets off across the desert. Through a lonely journey of self-discovery (of sorts) he experiments with a gift for telekinesis - basically, blowing things up with his mind. Progressing from bottles to animals he quickly changes up to humans, at which point he's pursued by Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella) and his officers. Chad is also our primary link to the second, arguably more intriguing plot strand which takes place in a separate but overlapping universe where a group of spectators are critically watching the action unfold. In a natty opening gambit Chad explains how the film is a form of tribute to the moments of "no reason" that make great films great. When the camera pulls back we realise it's actually the spectators he's speaking to. Quentin Dupieux's film plays around with his own notion of absurdity explicitly addressing the 'no reason' of his own film, and at one point even tries to kill off all his spectators so the actors can down tools and stop the pretence. An 'accountant' plots to poison the greedy spectators, but events don't go quite so smoothly as intended.
An experimental curiosity, Rubber is rarely gripping, but often fascinating. Dupieux manages to capture some beautiful imagery as the lone tire trundles across the desert landscape, and the way he brings a thoroughly inanimate object to life with such wry humour and subtly suggestive movements is a triumph. The performances are straight and there's no crass winking at the camera from the cast - it's not so much a B movie, as an off-kilter arthouse movie.
In the end, Rubber exists purely for itself. The real 'reason' for its existence is to satisfy the whims and imaginative indulgences of its creator. And that's fine for a while. Elements and comic vignettes keep you watching, but as a whole it doesn't really function. There's little feeling of jeopardy when the cast fall victim to Robert's rubbery attacks, and the deaths become incidental smirks. The spectator plot strand feels like a tacked on device to justify a feature length version of a concept that turned out to be a little too high. So too it's a device that allows total disregard for narrative logic.
Rubber's a very likeable movie despite its flaws, and there's clearly some serious artistic talent at work. I'd happily while away a couple of hours in Dupieux's mind again.
Rubber is out on UK DVD, Blu-ray and EST from 11th April through Optimum Releasing.
The extras are minimal, largely featuring sub 10min talking head interviews, the most entertaining and enlightening of which is with Dupieux, where he's interviewed by a sex doll...
Interview with Quentin Dupieux
Interview with Stephen Spinella
Interview with Jack Plotnick
Interview with Roxane Mesquida
First Camera Tests