Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

CANNES REVIEW | Bad Ideas In Close Up: Quentin Dupieux's "Rubber"

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Indiewire May 17, 2010 at 11:46AM

The selling point of "Rubber" sounds like the whole story: A tire comes to life and goes on a murderous rampage. But Quentin Dupieux's utterly zany slice of narrative subversion transcends that singularly goofy premise to create one of the more bizarre experiments with genre in quite some time. With playful self-reflexivity, Dupieux uses his central gimmick to satirize the nature of cinematic conceits.
0
CANNES REVIEW | Bad Ideas In Close Up: Quentin Dupieux's "Rubber"
A scene from Quentin Dupieux's "Rubber." Image courtesy of Critics Week.

The selling point of "Rubber" sounds like the whole story: A tire comes to life and goes on a murderous rampage. But Quentin Dupieux's utterly zany slice of narrative subversion transcends that singularly goofy premise to create one of the more bizarre experiments with genre in quite some time. With playful self-reflexivity, Dupieux uses his central gimmick to satirize the nature of cinematic conceits.

Minimalism has become a hot commodity for contemporary horror, with newer releases like "Buried" (Ryan Reynolds trapped in a coffin) and "The Human Centipede" (figure it out) deriving much of their appeal from a single tantalizing idea stretched out to feature length. "Rubber," however, comments on this trend rather than simply embracing it.

Despite a reputation to the contrary, the movie holds very few horror conventions, instead moving into a realm of sheer absurdity. Dupieux's barren desert setting begins with the introduction of spectators ostensibly watching the movie itself from a remote position through binoculars. A police officer arrives and delivers an extensive introductory monologue about the importance of "no reason" in motivating virtually every movie ever made (although he mainly cites icons of pop culture like "E.T."). This movie, explains the cop, exists solely as a homage to the importance of "no reason." Does the upfront confession signify earnest self-justification or pure surrealist commentary? What comes next suggests that it's both.

In a scene of epically comic personification and an unsubtle nod to "The Red Balloon," the circular villain rises to life as the spectators watch from afar, then proceeds to roll through the landscape and slowly build toward its killing streak. The curious tire learns a few dirty tricks, vibrating in masturbatory glee as a means of blowing up remote targets ranging from birds to human heads. The body count creeps up as the tire makes its way to a local motel, where it encounters several potential victims and an inquisitive child. And then things really get weird.

Cutting back to the spectators, Dupieux puts them in the position of skeptics. "Shouldn't a tire float?" wonders one when it rolls into a pool and sinks. "The way I see it," another man later concludes, "this scene makes no sense at all." By its third act, "Rubber" has moved to a place of sheer lunacy, with the head police officer showing up at the scene of the crimes and explaining to his troops that the entire situation "is not real life" and once the spectators cease to exist, their world does, too. (Film theorists can play around with that one all night.) Needless to say, he's still wrong by the end of the movie -- maybe because he didn't account for us.

Even with its bizarre satiric perspective on the nature of the viewing experience, "Rubber" does begin to wear out its welcome around the sixty minute mark, but you can't blame Dupieux for giving it a shot. The more overly ambitious aspects of the movie are also the parts that make it fundamentally hilarious. The final shot serves as a serious indictment of the Hollywood machine. If "Rubber" truly contains a political statement about the dangers of ill-conceived storytelling methods, then its intentions are as ambitious as its marvelously farcical high concept.

This article is related to: Rubber






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More