Published Apr 01, 2011The tagline for Rubber, "Are you tired of the expected?" is actually quite astute, summarizing the self-conscious and "pun-y," tongue-in-cheek dynamic of a movie that, on the surface, is about a sentient, psychokinetic killer tire. Of course, veiled explanations and witty double-entendres are unnecessary, seeing that this simultaneous satire and criticism of formula filmmaking and audience expectation quite literally explains itself, breaking the fourth wall, at regular intervals to remind the viewer of their role.
To expand, this French film, deliberately shot in English, opens with Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella) directing observations about E.T and other Hollywood movies to the camera. An audience is then brought in, seated in the desert, each with a pair of binoculars, to observe and comment on a tire in the distance that rises from the dirt and proceeds to roll over and blow up anything in its way.
A subplot forms at a rundown motel where the tire hides out, watching television, stalking a young French woman (Catherine Breillat regular Roxane Mesquida), while the police investigate the trail of dead bodies. With regular acknowledgement of the predictability of this storyline and the tedium of adhering to convention, an accountant (Jack Plotnick) attempts to kill the audience so the actors don't have to go through the motions.
From sly observations about theatregoers' inability to sit through an entire film without shoving food in their face to the hilarity of contrived motivation (the tire has a quiet flashback moment in front of a mirror and later happens upon a tire fire), Quentin Dupieux's moderately clever comedy delivers an abundance of laughs and absurdity, maintaining vitality throughout its brief running time.
It's not quite as smart as it thinks it is, but it's easy to overlook this minor issue during laugh-out-loud moments, such as one where Mesquida calls the tire a slut and then mocks the crappiness of her dialogue. (Mongrel Media)