Twitter Plot Summary: The tale of Robert, a tyre with psychic powers as it travels around the place and kills people randomly.
Five Point Summary:
1. A psychic tyre? That’s not that weird…
2. Scanners moment. Nice.
3. Stopping in a motel watching motorsports. Of course.
4. It’s getting very meta. As if it wasn’t already.
5. Hello, Hollywood.
Sometimes a film, or certain aspects of a film, don’t have to make sense in order for us to enjoy them. As the introduction to Rubber points out in its fourth-wall breaking opening monologue, some of the greatest films ever made have a certain level of “no reason” to their stories, certain points or aspects of plot that are just taken for granted so the story can continue without a needless amount of exposition that would just bring things to a grinding halt. Such as it is with Rubber, the story of a sentient tyre who goes on a killing spree when he realises that he has latent psychic powers. Yeah, just do what the man at the beginning said and go along with it.
After a deliberately nonsensical opening we’re introduced to Robert, that sentient tyre we were just talking about, as he makes his first tentative steps out into the world, crushing plastic bottles, smashing glass bottles and cans, and just having a general mooch around the place, all whilst a group of people stand around and watch him through binoculars. Robert is chased by an incredibly laid back police officer (Spinella) who is seemingly the only person who knows what’s going on – at least somebody does. It doesn’t become any more clearer than this as the story gets increasingly more meta and insane as it progresses, with characters aware that what they’re experiencing isn’t real, and the vague layers of a story within a story are more likely to instil confusion in its audience than anything else.
Suffice to say, Rubber does not go in the direction you might expect – it’s completely off the wall and insane, but doesn’t retain the grindhouse sensibilities that reading the premise might first suggest. It’s like a waking dream manifested for all to see, although doesn’t go completely down the rabbit hole of insanity that most dreams often follow, the script knowing when to rein itself in on occasion. In fairness it does start to lose its way around the halfway point, but a few exploding head sequences at the right moment make up for the lack of logic. It doesn’t help that, despite its modest budget, the picture quality is amazing, demonstrating the benefits of using decent high definition cameras.
The music’s good, almost too good in fact, some of it coming from Mr Oizo who many will remember for Flat Beat and the Flat Eric character associated with the track. It also transpires that Mr Oizo is in fact the director Quentin Dupieux.
You could probably read some subtext behind the story if you really wanted to, something about the perils of the Hollywood system or providing a clear story just because tradition and “The System” dictates it, but there’s a certain appeal in being deliberately obtuse and telling a story just because you can. It all comes back to that opening monologue, the fact that some things happen for no reason. If you can see it within yourself to just go with it and embrace the madness, Rubber is worthy of your time.