A corporate funded group of scientists experiment on humans to see what effect drugs, visual, and audio stimulation can do to the subject's minds in an attempt to create psychic-beings. After many failed attempts that result in the subjects exploding, the scientist turn to using one of their own as a test subject and the results turn deadly in this sexually violent bizarre tale.
Where Shozin Fukui's "964 Pinocchio" was hyper and chaotic, his prequel film "Rubber's Lover" is brooding and methodical. The color is gone, the noticeably low-budget restraints are gone, and the amateurish elements are gone. Shozin Fukui comes back in a big way with "Rubber's Lover" and manages to make one of the only films that can compete with "Tetsuo the Iron Man" toe-to-toe.
Unlike "964 Pinocchio", there is a more coherent and concrete storyline to follow in "Rubber's Lover" with scientist using different methods to create psychic abilities in humans. However Fukui still leaves his film open to interpretation and laced with plenty of ideas and philosophies about violence, humans, and the power of the mind.
While his message is a strong point of the film, what really makes "Rubber's Lover" such a powerful movie is how carefully constructed each part of the movie is that relates to and compliments the general themes of the movie. One of the elements that the scientists use to try and create a psychic phenomenon is through the use of sound, so when it comes time for these scenes there is very deep, intense, and penetrating sound that just pulls you into the scene. It's not just here though, the entire soundtrack and sound work to the movie was given a great amount of attention as it perfectly reflects the various moods of the movie. Sometimes its gritty and industrial noise, other times it’s loud and chaotic, and then it can almost sound strangely fantastical.
"Rubber's Lover" also marks Fukui going back to the tried-and-true black and white film stock often associated and preferred with these types of films. One difference with "Rubber's Lover" is that Fukui really darkened the image; I don't know if this is from using reversal stock or post-production work. Regardless, he really brings the contrast down so the shadows are heavy, the blacks are black and the highlights are white. This harsh contrast makes the movie pop with this constant stark image and helps with the movie's dark and cold atmosphere. It also contains some improved cinematography; while having a number of low angles it never gets as quirky and as wild as "964 Pinocchio" did. Rather Fukui has an eye for visuals and a good sense of framing so while the shots are simple they are still quite powerful. With the cinematography, well made props and set dressing, and the stark-contrast of the movie, you can't help but appreciate and be amazed by the movie's visual sense.
There's a lot to appreciate with "Rubber's Lover" and while I didn't comment on it too much, it does have a really good story and acting that is much more subdued and calmer compared to its predecessor. There are a number of ideals used in the movie so there for Fukui leaves the movie fairly open for interpretation, especially the ending. There is a reason and purpose behind the movie for Fukui, but he leaves it for the audience to draw their own conclusions. Overall though, this is one of the strongest titles I've seen in terms of experimental and cyberpunk cinema, while it can seem open and wild at times it was a carefully constructed movie that is designed to effect the viewer on a number of levels. The two stronger elements being the visual and the audio which helps brings the viewer into the movie.