Film and TV

Rubber documents one tire's bloody journey

Written and directed by Quentin Dupieux, Rubber follows the exploits of a tire (listed in the credits as "Robert") that figures out how to control its own motion and then rolls through the desert on a killing spree, blowing shit up with its mind. Rubber's methods of address make it far more complicated than we could expect any semi-spoofy, quasi-horror film about a murderous inanimate object with psychokinetic powers to be. The film never attempts to explain how Robert got this power or how it works; where a more conventional sci-fi film would dedicate itself to first revealing the source of this threat and then quashing it, Rubber, with its distinctly post-apocalyptic vibe, dedicates itself to the suggestion that any explanation would be irrelevant. The tire's bloody journey is presented through a framing device: An audience of about a dozen tourists watches Robert's adventures from afar through binoculars. Slowly closing the space between the viewers and the "actors" until they're part of the same drama, Dupieux mounts a critique of passive audiences that's also sympathetic to the way they're made to suffer. The voyeurs get what's coming to them — but Dupieux's final images confirm that Hollywood is his real target. An essay on storytelling and spectatorship within When Inanimate Objects Attack shlock — one infused with the haunting aura and disillusionment of a post-Easy Rider road movie — Rubber is some kind of miracle.

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Karina Longworth