Movie Reviews

Rubber: Mind-blowingly Surreal (SIFF)

By Zaki JufriMovies - 16 September 2011 5:21 PM | Updated 18 September 2011

Rubber: Mind-blowingly Surreal (SIFF)

Rating: 5 stars out of 5 

The stars: Robert the rubber car tyre, brand unknown.

The Story:  Rubber is the story of a car tyre, Robert, which emerges from beneath the sand near a desert highway and begins rolling along under its own power. It (or he) can do other things under its own power, too, like telekinetically cause inanimate objects and then living things to explode.

The Buzz: Directed by legendary French electro musician Quentin Dupieux (Steak, Nonfilm), aka Mr. Oizo, the film has been receiving positive reviews since its 2010 Cannes premiere as well as its various festival runs. thinks: A movie about a tyre that miraculously comes to life in a desert and then went on a killing spree, exploding people’s head by means of telekinesis. How crazy is that? We wonder how French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux manages to put out a mindboggling film about a killer tyre and gets away with it. But the bigger question is why?

The answer: No reason whatsoever. That’s just the brilliance of Rubber—possibly one of the craziest and perhaps best films we have seen this year thus far (who cares if it was released last year). The film is self-defined as an homage to "no reason" in film - as in, the idea that things happen "for no reason" in many films. Like why ET, out of all the millions of planets in the universe, chose to crash land here? Why Superman wears a cape? Why the Smurfs are blue? How does a tyre gets telekinetic powers…and so on. Get it?

Using a clever device where a character (binoculared police officer Lieutenant Chad) talks to an audience on screen that are watching a film about a sentient tyre—a film within film of sorts—Dupieux, creates a relationship with us and what we’re watching, constantly reminding us that we are watching a movie (this goes back to the ‘no reason’ idea).

For 82 minutes, we kept asking ourselves why we’re watching a tyre watching TV in a motel room, or a tyre trying to sneak a peek of a girl in the shower (and no, we’re not kidding). However, this does not mean that Rubber is a pointless film; instead it is quite the opposite. It's actually very entertaining, in a bizarre sort of way.

Also, in spite of the movie’s ponderous meta-commentary, Rubber is still a horror movie at heart. Gore fans still get their fair share of blood and exploding heads.

The best thing about Rubber is not how weird or absurd it is, but how it’s one daring and visually striking piece of work—sort of Dupieux’s way of showing Hollywood the finger, with the film’s inane mix of satire, comedy and horror. 

Rubber screens on September 16 at Lido, as part of the 24th Singapore International Film Festival