France / Angola 2010
Director: Quentin Dupieux
There seem to be decreasingly fewer truly unique films released these days, a glut of remakes, sequels and re-imaginings taking the place of smaller, independent features. While franchises have their place, it’s nice to see a film so strange and surreal that it almost defies description. On the surface, Rubber is a story of a rubber tire that comes to life and kills people with its mind but the actual film is a commentary on Hollywood films and the role of the audience in cinema.
The film begins with a character addressing the camera directly in a monologue regarding arbitrary decisions in Hollywood films. This scene shapes the rest of the film, with a clearly arbitrary object chosen in the role of protagonist/antagonist. The tire is anthropomorphised, good editing and a clever movement mechanism helping to give a sense of real character to the inanimate object. More than just movement, the tire also has telekinetic powers and uses these to drive the plot, exploding all living creatures he comes across.
Rubber exists in a strange metafilmic reality, with a group of spectators literally standing in the desert and watching the action of the film through binoculars, occasionally offering commentary or opinions. The inclusion of an audience as Greek chorus is interesting; they begin by replicating a typical group of cinema-goers, kept at a distance to the action but get gradually drawn more and more into the narrative. The spectators are shown as mostly ignorant, consuming anything given to them regardless of the consequences.
If the main character of Rubber had been humanoid then the plot would be fairly common: dangerous stranger becomes obsessed with a woman and follows her, leaving death in his wake. However, because the main character is a rubber tire, the whole situation is made surreal and shows how hollow some Hollywood films have become. Director Dupieux knows the idea is ridiculous and uses this film to poke fun at the Hollywood machine.Colin Le Sueur