• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

Rubber: Film Review

The Bottom Line

Nobody’s safe -- least of all moviegoers -- with a killer tire on the loose.

Venue:

AFI Fest

Starring:

Stephen Spinella, Roxane Mesquida, Jack Plotnick, Winga Hauser

Writer-director:

Quentin Dupieux

With a homicidal tire as the main character, this spoof isn’t scary enough to qualify as horror and not nearly as amusing as a black comedy should be.

Somewhere in the California desert, a crowd gathers outdoors to watch the live enactment of a movie, peering through binoculars provided by a mysterious errand runner (Jack Plotnick). Training their lenses on the desert landscape, the audience members watch as a discarded tire (dubbed Robert in the credits) animates in a deserted dump, rising upright. Wobbly at first, it gradually gains balance and confidence rolling aimlessly around the landscape. Sound and visual effects indicate a degree of intelligence at about the housepet level -- which perhaps explains why the tire doesn’t have a speaking role.

Very quickly the tire discovers that it has the telekinetic ability to destroy nearby objects by focusing intently on them. After blowing up some of the native wildlife, a brief encounter with an attractive young woman (Roxane Mesquida) leaves the tire smitten. Following her to an isolated motel, it goes on a killing spree, blowing off the heads of anyone who shows an interest in its object of affection.

Meanwhile the local sheriff (Stephen Spinella) and his deputies begin investigating the killings, even though they’re all in on the conceit that the multiple-murdering tire movie is all a big hoax, inflicted on the captive audience for no apparent reason.

Despite some marginally diverting sight gags, the repetition of exploding heads, horror movie references and tire jokes grows far to thin much too quickly. French electo-musician Quentin Dupieux, who writes, directs, shoots and edits Rubber, is clearly extremely pleased with himself and his creation, although his obvious talent is exceeded only by his self-indulgence. Even Rubber’s overly familiar meta- conceit of a film within a film falls short of raising the interest level.

Performances are uniformly self-reflexive. While the filmmaking has a certain casual style and the special effects involving the tire are frequently more absorbing than the narrative, without any relatable characters, identifiable tone or real raison d’etre, Rubber just can’t get any traction.

Production companies: Magnet Releasing presents a Realitism Film
Cast: Stephen Spinella, Roxane Mesquida, Jack Plotnick, Winga Hauser, Ethan Cohn, Cecelia Antoinette, Gaspard Auge, David Bowe, Devin Brochu
Director/screenwriter/editor/director of photography: Quentin Dupieux
Producers: Julien Berlan, Gregory Bernard
Production designer: Pascale Ingrand
Music: Mr. Oizo, Gaspard Auge
Not rated, 85 minutes