I’d better just let the filmmakers give you their own synopsis:
Rubber is the story of Robert, an inanimate tire that has been abandoned in the desert, and suddenly and inexplicably comes to life. As Robert roams the bleak landscape, he discovers that he possesses terrifying telepathic powers that give him the ability to destroy anything he wishes without having to move. At first content to prey on small desert creatures and various discarded objects, his attention soon turns to humans, especially a beautiful and mysterious woman who crosses his path.
Rubber opens with a man in the desert, holding way too many binoculars, in front of a dirt road lined with chairs. A police car approaches, taking great care to knock each chair down, finally stopping in front of the camera as an officer steps out of the trunk to address the camera.
The officer looks directly at us and begins a lecture about film and the concept of “no reason” as the other man hands out binoculars to a group of spectators - now revealed as the people he was addressing. They are the surrogate “us” of this bizarre movie. Keep that in mind as you watch.
Rubber may be unlike any show you’ve ever seen. It’s a meta-movie about our compulsion to watch a chain of not-real events unfold before us for no reason in particular. Which is exactly what you’ll be doing for the next 83 minutes.
Thus the tire stands in as your typical movie antagonist, demonstrating the absurdity of storytelling. You might as well be watching a tire, it’s saying, so unimportant are moving pictures.
The French often make thematic movies like this. You won’t be reading subtitles, but if you need a plot to cling to, clearly defined characters and the Hollywood formula, you’ll have a hard time getting through this.
The good news: If you truly embrace the concept of “no reason,” you’ll find many reasons to laugh at the antics of a rogue tire given extraordinary powers, as frustrated as any human would be at his own inadequacies and inability to understand the world.
You only wish you, too, could blow things up at will as you roll through life.
This is a smart, compelling film. Its absurdity may be lost on many. And it’s more comedy than horror.
But what's a movie without a plot? It's in there. Watch it with an open mind and you may do more than marvel at the special effects and chuckle at the sight gags. You may find yourself discussing and thinking about it long after it’s over. And that, my friends, makes it a winner in my book.
**** SPOILERS ****
The special effects were fantastic. I don’t remember seeing any CGI or visual effects in the credits, so I’d love to find out how they did so much with that tire.
At the end, I felt much like the last surviving viewer: Unable to stop watching and completely unsatisfiable. The filmmakers really played with us here - the long tracking shots of nothing more than a tricycle rolling down the street, even flashing the title card up again, daring you to believe it’s over, finally leading us straight to Hollywood. “We got you, suckers,” those tires seemed to be saying to me.