When confronted with a film as bizarre as Rubber, you naturally search for something to compare it to, so your friends will feel safe trying it out. A bunch of references come to mind: Waiting for Godot, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the Child's Play series, and a few of Kurt Vonnegut's more outré novels. But the comparison game is ultimately an unfulfilling one, especially in this case. Rubber just isn't what you expect it to be. It's a slasher film starring a sentient tire. It's a manifesto about audience expectations, starring an audience who stands in the desert watching through binoculars and providing a running commentary as the tire rolls around exploding things with its mind. And it's a directorial lament on how difficult it is now to confound audience expectations.

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And, in case you're wondering, it's an entertaining film, too. Rubber begins with a dadaist (or is it a nihilist?) monologue directed straight at us about how most events in film history (and therefore human history) happen for no reason. The abandoned tire struggles to life with remarkably human movements (part of the joy of Rubber comes from wondering how they manage to make the tire move the way it does—is it puppeteering, stop-motion photography, digital witchcraft, or a combination of all three?) and, in a manner of minutes, becomes a cold-blooded murderer staggering toward a fateful confrontation with civilization.

Perhaps the greatest compliment you could pay writer/director Quentin Dupieux is that you have no idea what is going to happen at any given moment of Rubber. He has the audacity to perform a cinematic experiment that isn't just a rote reassembly of scenes we've all seen a million times before. Even as you're watching it, you know you're witnessing the debut of a remarkable young talent. One day—probably one day soon—you'll be using Rubber as a metric for comparison. PAUL CONSTANT

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