Rubber is the story of Robert, an inanimate tire that has been abandoned in the desert and then suddenly and inexplicably comes to life. As Robert roams the bleak landscape, he discovers that he possesses terrifying telepathic powers that give him the ability to destroy anything he wishes. At first content to prey on discarded objects and small desert creatures, his attention soon turns to humans, especially a beautiful and mysterious woman who crosses his path. Leaving a swath of destruction behind, Robert becomes a chaotic force and truly a movie villain for the ages.
The titular star of this delightfully perverse and ecstatically witty exercise in comic invention is old and worn out, but not so much that it can't rouse itself from a castoff slumber to roll across the desert and wreak havoc on the inanimate objects, animals, and human beings that cross its path. That includes the audience, both the one viewing at home and the Greek chorus-like group that's gathered on the film's horizon to watch the story unfold through binoculars. There's no explanation why this haphazard band of observers has been chosen to follow the beat-up rubber tire's path of destruction as it anthropomorphizes into a living, breathing, shuddering entity of malice. They engage in an ongoing commentary and string of non sequiturs while the tire goes about exacting telekinetic revenge on the humans who may or may not have done it wrong (until they meet their own untimely end, that is). Writer-director Quentin Dupieux also neglects to explain why some of the actual characters maintain such a coolly self-reflexive spin on the proceedings, especially the small-town sheriff who opens the movie by addressing the camera directly. His deadpan soliloquy is a series of philosophical remarks about the seemingly random reasons why things happened in other movies, ranging from Love Story
to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
. And so it goes, as seen mostly from a ground-level, tire's-eye view in wacky sequences that slip back and forth between slasher-flick gore and existential conundrums. There's no denying the conceptual genius in this saga of an ordinary tire traveling through the dust of a Mojave Desert backwater killing randomly in anticipation of a greater glory to come. Is it a movie within a movie? Is it one of the most entertaining indie-comedy-horror-micro-budget experiences ever? Is it a movie at all? Dupieux offers no help with these questions, only a connected succession of brilliantly bizarre visuals that seem to suggest that the harder you think about it all the more likely it is your head will explode--a fate only too familiar to the beings that have close encounters with the weathered radial. The only sure thing is that Rubber
teems with inspiration and free-associative magnificence in its quest for a truth that will probably never reveal itself to a non-rubberized consciousness. --Ted Fry