Static Mass Rating: 3/5
RUBBER (Blu-ray)
Optimum Home Entertainment

Release date: April 11th, 2011
Certificate / Rating: 15
Running time: 82 minutes

Country of origin: France
Original language: English

Writer and director: Quentin Dupieux

Cast: Stephen Spinella, Jack Plotnick

A desolate sandy road is littered with a dozen or so chairs. A young man in a shirt, tie and thick glasses stands by the roadside holding a dozen pairs of binoculars. A car drives down the road, swerves to hit and demolish each and every chair and then pulls up. The boot opens and out steps Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella), he walks past the driver’s window from which he is given a glass of water, walks towards camera and stares down the lense.

“In the Steven Spielberg movie E.T., why is the alien brown? No reason. … In the excellent Chainsaw Massacre by Tobe Hooper, why don’t we ever see the characters go to the bathroom or wash their hands like people do in real life? Absolutely no reason. Worse, in The Pianist by Polanski, how come this guy has to hide and live like a bum when he plays the piano so well? Once again, the answer is no reason. I could go on for hours with more examples…all great films, without exception, contain an important element of no reason. And you know why? Because life, itself, is filled with no reason.”

He then pours the water on the ground and gets back into the car.


And thus begins Quentin Dupieux’s insane B-movie; Rubber. The plot essentially sees a group of strangers standing in the barren American wilderness watching ‘the film’ through binoculars. ‘The film’ involves Robert, who wakes up one day to discover he has extraordinary psycho-kinetic powers. When he shakes and concentrates hard enough, he can make things spontaneously explode – a glass bottle, a rabbit, a bird, a man’s head.

The thing that makes Robert’s abilities all the more unlikely and, at least in principle, very funny, is that he is a tyre. Exactly.

Now, the trailer – which may well still be the best thing about this film – and its content suggest one thing really; an off the wall schlocky B-movie about a marauding killer tyre. The quote used in the trailer which you may not notice first time around but which has a heavy bearing on the film is “Roger Corman by way of Samuel Beckett”.


The movie pulls in two very different directions through its runtime. First is the aforementioned Grindhouse premise but it’s juxtaposed with a arthouse sensibility that looks to deconstruct the medium of film centring on the theme that life and film are filled with absurdity; battering this sentiment home through Spinella’s Lt. Chad both in dialogue (as above) and performance.

The B-movie stuff is done pretty darn well, the tyre is menacing, the police inept and the exploding heads and animals suitably gory. For me, the meta-stuff, with the ‘audience’ on the hillside and at times interacting with the action was a little bit hit-and-miss, sometimes blackly funny, like in the scene where the Accountant (Jack Plotnick) eats the éclairs, but at other times falling entirely flat.

One thing which was not hit-and-miss was the execution of the movie; it is simply stunning to look at. The inventive camerawork is gorgeous throughout, never hitting a dull note and the techniques employed to create something of character in Robert are spot on.


One character – a member of the ‘audience’ – even states that this is the first time he’s related to a tyre and that is certainly how the actual audience will feel. We’re aware when he’s happy, sad, lustful or angry and this is done primarily through the visuals that Dupiex creates, having shot and edited the film too.

The performances are all okay and Spinella is genuinely funny throughout; trying to strike the chord between natural, realistic, purposely wooden and hammy is always a hard but he does it admirably.

Rubber does regrettably feel a bit stretched at 82 minutes, and I wonder whether it may have been more suited to a short film, but of course this would have left little time to explore the things it’s trying to explore. The final shot is a clear flipping of the bird to Hollywood and feels even more stupid than the rest of the movie but it is remains good fun throughout even when you might not think of it as good.

Ultimately, whether Dupieux’s deconstruction of film is well done, or incidentally even worth doing, it does ask some questions. And a tyre called Robert blows people’s heads up. Which is awesome.

About Ben Nicholson

Ben Nicholson

Ben has had a keen love of moving images since his childhood but after leaving school he fell truly in love with films. His passion manifests itself in his consumption of movies (watching films from all around the globe and from any period of the medium’s history with equal gusto), the enjoyment he derives from reading, talking and writing about cinema and being behind the camera himself having completed his first co-directed short film in mid-2011.

His favourite films include things as diverse as The Third Man, In The Mood For Love, Badlands, 3 Iron, Casablanca, Ran and Grizzly Man to name but a few.

Ben has his own film site, ACHILLES AND THE TORTOISE, and you can follow him on Twitter @BRNicholson.