Directed by Shozin Fukui and released in its home country of Japan in 1996.
Where Shozin Fukui’s previous feature, 964 Pinocchio, failed was in it’s complete lack of structure and flow. The film floated around going from one extreme to the next never really figuring itself out. His second feature, Rubber’s Lover, however is an incredibly vast improvement. Despite going from one extreme to another just like its predecessor the film actually manages to stay consistent and keep its flow going. The perfect cinematography reinforces this. The film is basically everything 964 isn’t and so much more.
Rubber’s Lover is basically a film about two doctors – one psychic, one dedicated to his work. Both believe their new mind-altering drug – ether – can give a subject psychic abilities. What they soon realize however is that the experiment they’ve set up has far greater consequences. It mixes elements of science fiction with horror but ultimately there is no genre that this film can fit into. It is so surreal that it demands to be set apart from everything.
The film has absolutely incredible cinematography and is edited with perfection – the absolute opposite of it’s predecessor, as aforementioned. This is possibly one of the main reasons that I loved this so much more than I did with 964 Pinocchio. The performances from the actors are so amped up that they give off no impression of falsity like almost every film you will see with terrible acting. Yes they are over the top but that is what brings beauty to the characters and the film as a whole. Their performances give you a true idea of what this mind-altering drug will do to you and after finishing the film your own mind is altered just as much if not moreso than those in the film.
I truly have a deep admiration for all Asian cinema, Japanese cinema especially. Since the days of Ozu and Mizoguchi, Japanese cinema has truly come a very long way. The ’60s and ’70s pinku eiga films spawned a strange kind of Japanese film. After the Guinea Pig series the cyberpunk genre began to floruish, taking obvious influences from ’80s horror cinema from the likes of David Cronenberg et al. Directors like Shinya Tsukamoto and Hisayasu Sato appeared out of nowhere and brought us films like Tetsuo The Iron Man and Splatter: Naked Blood…. but ten years ago when I had just began to delve into cinema, even though I knew absolutely nothing about foreign cinema and what was going on overseas I was always searching for something like this… When I was recommended Tetsuo I thought I’d found it but I was disappointed with that. With Rubber’s Lover however, a film I have been aching to see for years… I have finally found it. The film goes over the top and acknowledges it… and then goes even fucking further.
As I mentioned before, the film mixes elements of science fiction and horror but also incredibly enough has more humour than horror. For any film to put comedy into the mix and still retain its powerful aesthetic is a fantastic feat. Ultimately the finished product is so batshit insane that it will leave your brain on the brink of exploding. Luckily, I’ve a penchant for the batshit insane… that may be the main reason why I fell in love with this.