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Written by: Quentin Depieux

Directed by: Quentin Depieux

Starring: Stephen Spinella, Roxane Mesquida, Wings Hauser, Jack Plotnick

 

Quentin Depieux’s Rubber exists as a very strange and entertaining film indeed. Depieux, known also as Mr. Oizo, wrote and directed the film, as well as composed most of its soundtrack. Put simply, Rubber is about an old tire that comes to life and goes on a killing spree through the dessert. But more interestingly, Depieux has crafted an unexpectedly smart and sly piece of meta-cinema, and a most bizarre viewing experience.

The film opens with the first of many in a long string of ultra-stylish but intentionally vacuous images that lead to Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella) climbing out of the trunk of a car and speaking, it seems, directly into the camera. Chad speaks of his theory of “no reason,” which states that every movie ever made contains at least one unexplained occurrence that is central to the plot. This notion, that audiences willingly forgo logic in lieu of a good distraction, is the core concept that drives Rubber.

Contructed as a song of devotion to the illogical, Rubber‘s plot is wafer-thin and impossible to predict. It’s stuffed full of images, dialogue and plot developments that exist only to confound, such as the sub-plot involving the group of people with binoculars in the dessert, seemingly watching the events of Rubber unfold, and ending up the targets of a bizarre murder plot. It becomes increasingly impossible to distinguish the events of the film, from the events of the film within it. I hesitate to use the word “reality” because that is a construct entirely ignored by this film.

As a piece of meta-cinema, Rubber succeeds beyond necessity. In this post-Tarantino age, there has been a glut of over-informed  meta-cinema. Some of it has been very good, as in the work of Tarantino himself and others such as Edgar Wright and newcomer Duncan Jones. But more of it has been less than astounding, reaching a point where the parody trailers created for Grindhouse (2007) have already spawned two bloated feature-length films. Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, half of Grindhouse, as well as his more recent picture Machete (2010), and Jason Eisner’s Hobo with a Shotgun (2011) are all examples of films constructed of tropes and cliches. These films are fun, but they’re so full of winks to  exploitation rubbish that they become little more than trashy exploitation themselves. With Rubber, Depieux has sidestepped the risk of shooting himself in the foot by making a film so well made that its quality becomes part of the joke.

Rubber is cleverly written, beautifully photographed and very well acted; instead of constantly pointing to its own cleverness, Rubber just continues on, playing its absurdity with a poker face. Because Depieux takes his film seriously, it functions as a rather sharp example of film criticism, satirizing the way trash is gobbled up by audiences all over, who never pause to ask the obvious questions. The first moments of the tire’s life are filmed with such care and patience, it begins to feel as though one is watching the birth of a child. This is, of course, intentional and Depieux is teasing his audience, baiting his viewers and making them feel emotionally connected to a tire.

The only time Depieux gives any indication that he is kidding around, is through his soundtrack. Depieux composed the film’s soundtrack along with Gaspard Auge of Justice and it is made up mostly of the whiny, screaming synthesized sounds of the music from independent horror films from the late 1970s. The soundtrack in Rubber is phenomenal, and has a great sense of humour. Depieux and Auge are having fun here, and often use the music as a punchline to a foolish plot development.

Rubber is a gorgeously photographed film, and an absolute treat to watch. The plot is weird and silly, and the entire piece functions as a hilarious but biting piece of cinema criticism. This film is a brilliant celebration of everything that makes the movies trashy and marvelous.

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