Imagine two scenarios, both involving a writer/director and a producer discussing ideas for a movie project. In the first scenario, both individuals are out to make a quick buck from a down ‘n’ dirty exploitationer. They’re drinking beer at 10am while they discuss the project and smoking dope. In the second, at least one of these gentlemen is of European extraction, they’re discussing the project over lunch at a pavement café and drinking mineral water.
Scenario 1: “Dude, I’ve got this great idea,” says the writer/director; “Horror movie set in the back of beyond, where we can film on the cheap and not worry about permits. We’ve got a sheriff who’s a little bit edgy, a seedy dude who runs a motel, some hot French chick in a soft-top and a killer on the loose. We can shoot it in a coupla weeks for chump change, play the festivals and turn a decent profit on DVD.” The producer likes the sound of this but opines, “It’s kinda been done before. We need a hook. Something different.” The writer/director tokes some maryjane: “Dude, I’ve got it. The killer is a tyre!”
Scenario 1: Scenario 2: “You see, the basic concept is a mise en scene drawn from the tropes of American low-budget horror cinema – therefore we have the world weary sheriff, the twitchy and secretive owner of an isolated motel, and we have a role for Roxane Mesquida as a mysterious woman to whom the antagonist is drawn. But instead of ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ or ‘Vacancy’, we deconstruct the material into a surreal anti-narrative which juxtaposes the narrative conventions of the road movie with a philosophical discourse on the nature of illusion and the role of the audience in the story’s development.” The producer lights a Gitanes and nods appreciatively. “Tell me about the antagonist.” The writer/director smiles: “Ah, he is the key to the entire film. His name is Robert and he is – how you say? – un pneumatique.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is about as close as I can come to doing justice to ‘Rubber’. It is either an arthouse masterpiece or a piss-take of the highest order. Either way, you should absolutely make the time to see it.