On the surface, Rubber might just be your average film about a sentient tire that rolls around a small desert town and kills people with its psycho-kinetic powers, but underneath the clichéd premise is a film about the nature of the medium itself. The film opens with a monologue explaining that all films are essentially governed by the laws of suspension of disbelief, and as soon as the viewer loses the ability to do so, then all films are basically filled with things that happen for no reason (like why E.T. is brown, for example). WriterDirector Quentin Dupieux then decides to prove his theory by making a feature length film with the basic premise of: If an audience can be invested and captivated by a film about a tire on a killing spree, then they can be shown anything and approve, as long as the suspension of disbelief is present. With that premise as its starting point, the film should play like someone’s dry thesis statement for a film theory class, but instead the filmmaker combines enough B-Movie splatter effects and Dadaist absurdity to create a solid critique of audience expectation vs. the responsibility of art.
The film is most definitely worth your time if you’re in the mood for something radically different from anything you have ever seen before. The reason the premise managed not to wear thin for me after 15 minutes is that the tire (named Robert) is shot from enough eclectic perspectives and angles to always feel fresh and varied. Rubber could have easily tried to just coast by on the premise alone (and would have failed), but instead the combination of excellent sound design, beautiful desert cinematography and some wonderful performances makes for a very memorable 90 minutes. I suppose you could just wait for the next killer tire movie to come along and sweep you off of your feet, but then you might make Robert angry and you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.