Rubber is Tiresome (Get It?)

At the Northwest Film Forum for two more showings (tonight and tomorrow at 5 p.m.) thanks to an extended run, Rubber is the killer tire movie you’ve heard so much about. The conceit is simple: For no reason, a car tire gains awareness, self-mobility, and psychokinetic powers, and then proceeds to stalk and kill everything in its path. But writer-director Quentin Dupieux (aka DJ Mr. Oizo) takes it one step further by turning his horror flick into a commentary on film itself.

Out in the desert, there’s a dozen looky-loos watching the tire through binoculars, complaining that the plot is moving too slowly, cheering on the tire’s kills, shushing other viewers’ incessant comments. And the action going on–cops chasing the tire as it looks for new victims–exists for these voyeurs’ benefit. It’s a movie audience within the movie, making what would otherwise be a slasher joke into an exercise in meta.

In other words, it’s French.

While it often errs on the side of being too cute by half, Rubber certainly has its sly moments, most of which comes from the “acting” of Robert the tire. (In the sequel, he will assuredly be played by James Franco.) Dupieux’s got a natural eye and a talent for perspective, and of course he scores the film well. As the filmmaker makes clear by the end of the tire’s run, this is just the beginning–he’s got Hollywood in his sights.