Rubber (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Rubber (2011)

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Have you ever been invited to a party or event where the host did nothing but insult you? Did you wonder why they bothered inviting you in the first place if he was just going to insult you? Congratulations, you have seen Rubber!

Rubber is a film about a tire with psychic powers. Sort of. That's what it bills itself as at least, but there's more going on in the film. Aside from the killer tire, there's also a group of people held against their will in the desert and forced to watch the film unfold within the film. Keeping them captive is the Sheriff (Stephen Spinella), who has become self-aware that he is an actor in a terrible film and has put a plan in action to escape. What presents itself as a crappy B-horror movie is actually a meditation on how both the audience and actors perceive and interact with film.

Conceptually it's a better than just the idea of a psychic tire, but lacking something in execution. The film is nearly an hour and a half long, but roughly half of that length is shots of the tire slowly rolling through the desert. The shots look gorgeous, but aside from eye candy contribute little to the film. I want to give the film the benefit of the doubt and say it's padding to turn a 40 minute short film into a theatrical release, but watching it one eventually feels like they're just watching self-important wankery.

Rubber has a very bitter view of its audience. It depicts them as crass and ignorant yokels, easily entertained with nudity and violence. Since Rubber's trailer presents it as a mindless romp of sex and death, the inclusion of the film's captive audience and their tastes gives the impression of a sneak attack: "Come watch my film so that I can show you how stupid are for wanting to see a my film." Couple this with the eventual fate of the audience within the film and it feels less like intellectual pondering and a lot like the bitter revenge of a spurned director.

The one bright spot of the film is Stephen Spinella's character. The moments where his character reveals his self-awareness are genuinely funny. Sadly, besides the opening monologue and a few scenes where he attempts to convince his fellow actors that they're only players in a film, we're left uncertain as to whether he escapes the film or is lost in the fantasy. Seems to me this would have been important for the film to explore, but instead we get more shots of the tire blowing up birds or whatever.

I want to like Rubber. It's beautiful to look at and I like how it tries to examine the relationship between films and actors and viewers, but it's slow, leaves its points half-finished and is downright abusive to its audience. It's worth checking out on Netflix, if only see what might have been. Just be ready to hit the fast forward button. A lot.

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Posted by Jacob

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