I was ecstatic when I found out a year ago that Quentin Dupieux (aka Mr. Oizo) was going to be making a film. His history as an electro artist and music video director from an era of bar none the greatest music videos, which at the time had stations to play on, opened up a window for him to plant a flag in the ground and place himself next to others like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry. Appropriately, his first feature length film is weird. Not a pretentiously, cold shoulder weird, but a mysterious, hilarious kind of weird. I mean, what else can you expect when the entire synopsis of the film is only two words? “Killer tire.”
Well, it’s two words if you just want to sell someone on it. The devil is in the details, and the devil has magic powers so… Let’s say the magic’s in the details. These aren’t spoilers per se, but because it’s such a delightful turn of events you should encounter it yourself, I’ll act like it is anyways. SPOILER ALERT I GUESS. Yes, Rubber is about a tire that comes to life, has psychic powers, kills everything it meets and rolls on to the next victim. If that sounds like too little for a feature film, you are right. Rubber is also about its own audience. No, not you, you vain little twerp. In the film, there is an audience, one watching the film not unlike you. Not from a theatre though, but in this world Dupieux has created, a film’s audience actually stands nearby, holding voyeuristic binoculars and watching the events as they unfold from a safe distance. The cast of the ‘film’, some more conscious of their fate than others, desperately want to end this trite exercise and make attempts on the audiences’ lives, while pretending to give a crap about a killer tire. See, now isn’t that more interesting than two words? SPOILERS OVER.
The film is incredibly playful in its nonsense, and the semantics between art house film and cult pandering are blurred when a cop car slowly and meticulously runs over a series of carefully placed chairs on a desert road for the opening scene. The cast, who seem to be having as much fun being in the film as you are watching it, do a superb job not grounding, but oiling such an absolutely absurd premise. The tire itself, even if it looks like any other rubber tire, has masterful puppeteering, and the inanimate roadside object through simple movements and gestures manage to resonate curiosity, anger, lust, pride, loneliness and mystical superpowers.
Rubber is a textbook genre breaker, and a bright herald of mid-to-late 90s music video mentality shining off a silver screen, perhaps stronger still than Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine through absurdity. Rubber lets itself go, and while the content feels like a delightful stream of consciousness, the filmmakers put such heart into its execution that it’s nearly pitch perfect in leaving you feeling good. Oddly enough, the film kind of lacks music by Oizo himself, but you’d be hard pressed to disagree the strutting wheel march the film takes its time to end on doesn’t make you want to funk n’ bump about.
The opening exposition is a hypocritical speech about ‘no reason’, to which the speech itself proves that, in its logic of being spoken, has no reason. Much like Flat Eric of old, Rubber practically celebrates itself with its own existence in an uncanny style. It’s one of the few intentionally cult options that not only doesn’t make you groan with the mere mention but justifies itself by being intensely entertaining without the need of a gimmick pretense. Rubber is Rubber for Rubber’s sake, and that rolls with me.