"All great films, without exception, contain an important element of no reason". So sayeth Chad (Stephen Spinella), a police lieutenant who we first meet in the middle of the desert as he emerges from the boot of a car and addresses the screen with examples of how movies such as THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and JFK contain moments that exist without reason.

Why? "Because" he tells us "life itself is filled with no reason".

He then goes on to tell us that the film we're about to see is homage to the style of "no reason", and then drives off into the golden highway. As he does, the camera pulls back to reveal a large group of spectators. Having finished listening to Chad, they turn around and view something in the distance through their individual binoculars.

The film then travels through yard upon yard of desert, over litter and debris, until finally resting on the inanimate object in their sights: a car tyre. Then, without fanfare or explanation, the tyre shrugs itself into life and begins to roll haphazardly. Cue the panpipes on the soundtrack.

The tyre - which, incidentally, happens to be called Robert - crushes an empty plastic bottle that lies in its path. A little further, it crushes a live scorpion too. When it has trouble crushing a beer bottle, the tyre shakes and whirs until the bottle shatters. The onlooking crowd are in awe of this vulgar display of Robert's "psychokinetic" powers.

Robert rolls further still. It tests its newfound powers out on a tin can and, sure enough, the can explodes on cue. The same applies to a cute bunny that gets it a short while later, and later still a lonesome crow. As it continues its journey towards civilisation, the group of onlookers - led by a wily unnamed Accountant (Jack Plotnick) - camp out and follow the tyre from a safe distance.

It transpires that Robert is obsessed with a raven-haired beauty called Sheila (Roxane Mesquida), who's on the run from a past she'd rather forget. He follows her as she drives along the open highways, and stops at roadside motels to refresh. Who wouldn't? She is rather fit, especially when showering.

In turn, Robert's murderous streak - before long, he's taken to blowing off people's heads with his telepathic powers - have alerted the attention of Chad, who determines to put an end to the vulcanised fiend's trail of gore.

Meanwhile in the distance, the spectators continue to watch over events as the Accountant divides his time between being their 'tour guide', and enjoying illicit telephone conversations with his master ...

It all sounds horrendously ill conceived, I know, but RUBBER is one of those films that makes better sense when you're watching it. The story is unnecessarily muddled at times, but that's only because the minor plot is deliberately obscured until the film's second half: those looking for a linear storyline from the off may be alienated by the time seemingly random threads start coming together.

RUBBER is very well filmed. Its keenly composed exterior shots, sun-kissed cinematography and attention to quirky detail reminded me at times of Alex de la Iglesia (particularly his earlier works such as ACCION MUTANTE and THE DAY OF THE BEAST).

Beautiful Californian desert locations and red-hued sunsets can only make the film look even better, and writer-director Quentin Dupieux shoots with all the flair of a high-gloss car commercial.

At 76 minutes in length, it almost feels as though RUBBER is several short films rolled into one. There are many superbly executed scenes and virtually every shot is meticulously prepared. But its reluctance to follow conventions and provide central characters renders it quite slow at times, despite the constant stream of amazing visuals and frequent sight gags.

While frequently clever and always aesthetically sound, RUBBER works best as a surreal and offbeat comedy with occasional gore. It's not great, but teenagers the world over will love introducing their pals to it, under the guise of "you've never seen anything like this". Cultdom awaits.

Presented in 1.85:1 and enhanced for 16x9 televisions, RUBBER's transfer is a good one. The vast majority of the film unfolds in daylight and it looks all the better for it, with a presentation that glories in rich colours and fine detail.

English audio is presented in 2.0 and 5.1 mixes. The latter doesn't really add much to the former, sounding somewhat artificial in places. Still, the 2.0 mix proffers a solid and even mix throughout. Optional subtitles are available in English for the Hard of Hearing.

An inventive and witty animated main menu page opens the disc. From there, an animated scene-selection menu allows access to RUBBER via 12 chapters.

The best of the limited extras are a quartet of interviews. The first of these - the best one - is an 8-minute chat with Dupieux. In keeping with the irreverence of the main feature, he's interviewed on the shoot of RUBBER by a blow-up doll.

The Dupieux interview is conducted in French with English subtitles. The remaining three interviews - more conventionally shot in a colourful garden setting with the actors speaking to camera - are in English. These are with Plotnick (6 minutes), Spinella (4 minutes) and Mesquida (3 minutes).

Next up is a "Teaser Test". This is 48-seconds of footage, complete with soundtrack, depicting a tyre rolling ... and rolling ... I'm not quite sure what purpose this serves.

The film's original trailer rounds off the extras. This clocks in at 89 seconds in length and effectively captures the film's absurdist humour, along with throwing in a few moments of gore for good measure.

RUBBER sounds barmy and is, in principal. It's also deceptively adept on a technical level, and perhaps not as madcap as those attracted to its synopsis may hope. It's well worth a look though, if only for Dupieux's enjoyable nods to Sergio Leone, Alex de la Iglesia, George Miller and more.

Also available on blu-ray.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Optimum
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review