blank'/> Cinema Reviews: Reality - Burning Rubber

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Reality - Burning Rubber

I'll preface this review by saying I wasn't a fan of Quentin Dupieux's Rubber back in 2010, I thought it abused a high concept (The impossibly sentient tire who just as inexplicably kills people) by acknowledging the fourth wall and having a gang of spectators observe and comment on the tire from afar. I felt the latter was unnecessary dressing and that the central concept was engaging and absurd enough to sustain a film on it's own. The observers actually took away from my pleasure of seeing a simple horror trope playfully skewed.

Both Wrong (2012) and Wrong Cops (2013) escaped my attention, I didn't even know the director had followed up Rubber until I found out about this latest effort from a film site I frequent.

Thankfully, in Reality the central conceit is acknowledging the fourth wall and playing around with cinematic conventions, so their inclusion works for rather than against the film.

I was initially frustrated by Dupieux's reluctance to settle on a story thread: is our tale about Jon Heder in a rat suit possessed by delusions of eczema, or the little girl who spies a mysterious blue video tape in the disemboweled entrails of a hog, or the aspiring film director (Jason played by Alain Chabat) charged with recording an Oscar-winning scream to secure funding for his feature film? Dupieux does finally settle on the third thread as our main line of inquiry, but not before confusing the little girl story by calling her "Reality" and having her as the subject of a film being screened for the producer who has promised Jason film funding.

Once you realize that the film is a deliberate play on confusing reality, dreams and cinema, you simply relax and enjoy how skillfully Dupieux surprises and plays with these various levels. At one point Jason calls the Producer of his film during an earlier meeting between the Producer...and himself. The earlier Jason tells the Producer to assure later Jason that he is simply having a nightmare and will wake up soon. In another section Reality is sitting before the Principal for attempting to play the tape at school. The Principal asks for the tape and Reality threatens to tell everyone the Principal dresses as a woman and drives around in an army jeep - but she couldn't possibly know this, because this was a dream the Principal had. She only featured in the dream, she couldn't possibly have been there for real, right?

Nothing is properly explained or tied up by the film's elliptical end but this, like Holy Motors, is one of those rare surrealist/absurdist films where the ride is so enjoyable you don't really mind if it doesn't make sense.

It loses a few points for being a little bit full of itself and not being particularly profound or insightful.

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