Director Quentin Dupieux
Writer Quentin Dupiex
Lead a rubber tyre
Box Office $100,370
Quentin Dupieux writes and directs this bizarre, absurdist horror film about a rubber tyre with psychic ability. Rubber is Dupiex’s third feature after Nonfilm and Steak.
We open with a police car rattling through a number of chairs in a dusty landscape for no reason. A police officer stumbles out of the boot for no reason, holding a glass of water for no reason and proceeds to tell us, as a prologue for the film, the list of films which have ‘no reasons’. He tells us the following film (Rubber) is based on this ‘no reason’ reasoning. This does help explain away some of the less plausible aspects of the film (killer rubber tyre aside, of course).
After a well cinematographied opening sequence, the titular rubber tyre drags itself up from the sand and we follow it rumble through the dusty landscape. Its killing instincts are revealed when we see it crush an empty water bottle before graduating onto scorpions and crushing glass bottles with its psychic abilities.
A group of people with binoculars from the opening sequence serve to tell us the plot in words in the format of destroying the fourth wall. They give us running reviews, warn us against piracy and generally act as a home audience would. These are portrayed as sex starved carnivorous animals, perhaps this is a filmmakers’ fear: this audience.
Act two starts in the second day of the tyre’s sentience and naturally the tyre has graduated from objects onto animals and soon onto humans. There’s also a fourth wall-breaking bit about how the film-goers are hungry and need food. Popcorn allegories. The use of the tyre allows foreboding to be fairly easy, even with the pop music of a young girl’s car accompanying the point of view shots we see.
It’s here where I started to see similarities between Danny Torrance on his trike in The Shining between the tyre roaming through dust and roads. It’s a coming of age film. We watch the tyre be destructive and immature and violent before discovering its abilities and its sexuality.
This is microcinema. This is arthouse. Revved up to eleven. It is a rubber tyre, a fucking rubber tyre. I’ve heard about this vaguely from people at universities and such psychopaths in bars that would recommend a film like this, all of whom tell me with such a quizzical look on their faces.
It’s weird. You don’t need to see the film to understand this. The segments of endless tyre rolling doesn’t particularly get old, although the cutting back to the ‘audience’ does. I’m all for dripping through breaking the fourth wall, it’s clever when utilised correctly, and here it is no doubt clever, but it’s relentless.
Rubber is equal parts clever, absurd, funny and flawed.
Jorodowsky is an obvious inspiration for Dupieux with such a brazen opening to the film. The opening, listing films from Texas Chain Saw Massacre to The Pianist, is a piece of self-serving nonsense, to show everyone how many films he has seen and put thought into.
Perhaps David Lynch, king of the absurd, is another inspiration. A rabbit explodes through the tyre’s psychic abilities and the tyre then celebrates by dancing with accompanying music. That’d fit right in Lynch’s canon.
At 82 minutes runtime, with credits, it’s definitely a portable film you can pick up and empty your mind for. It’s crucial you come into this with an empty and open mind and just enjoy it for what it is: utter absurdism.