Cannes Review: Quentin Dupieux's Wacky Tire Movie Rubber
by Alex Billington
May 16, 2010
One of the most buzzed about films in this year's Semaine de la Critique (Critic's Week) is French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux's wacky new film Rubber about an angry sentient tire that explodes peoples' heads using psycho-kinetic powers. The film is self-defined (directly in the beginning) as an homage to "no reason" in film - as in, the idea that things happen "for no reason" in many films. And, for no reason, Dupieux decided to make a film about a tire that's alive. Alas, there's only so much anyone can do with this concept, and it doesn't have enough to last a full film, so he uses some other tricks to keep it running for a full 85 minutes.
Rubber is one of those bad-but-good films that deserves to be in a Grindhouse line-up from the 70's. Not only does it have a story about a killer tire, but Dupieux plays with the audience in crazy ways. He actually introduces a live "audience" in the film that is watching the "film" about a tire. They make observations and watch everything unfold through binoculars as if they were idiot audience members watching this film play out, but he spends so much time with them (an even mix of both stories) that I started to get bored with the whole film about half way through. I mean, how much can you do with a killer tire and a small budget in the middle of the California desert? The tire, called Robert, doesn't talk, kills some people, and that's about it.
I don't want to say this film was a complete waste because when or where will we see a story about an angry, sentient tire ever again, and if that concept alone interests you, than it's worth checking out. But it's just so wacky, so frickin' weird from start to finish, with the odd audience-in-the-film secondary story and the tire's love affair with a beautiful girl, that it's just hard to actually love it. At one point halfway through, after they try to poison and kill off the audience, a police officer just says to stop acting and go home because it's over, but since it is real, the story resumes. Good or bad, pointless or not, it was at least a very unique experience.