Rub (2023) – Movie Review (with Spoilers)

Nail Micah Spayer Perla Jennifer Figueroa e1690932330398

The cinematic narrative, “Rub,” unfolds the tribulations of an archetypal everyman figure named Neil, who finds himself teetering on the brink due to his emotionally barren existence and malignant professional setting.


General Information

Director(s) Christopher Fox
Screenplay By Christopher Fox
Based On N/A
Date Released (Prime Video) August 1, 2023
Genre(s) ThrillerDrama
Film Length 1 Hour 45 Minutes
Content Rating Rated R
Noted Characters and Cast
Neil Micah Spayer
Perla Jennifer Figueroa
West Wesley Barrington Atrope
Trevor PJ Landers
Neil’s Boss Moud Sabra
Detective Miller Rob Figueroa
Detective Bryant Steven Strickland

Things To Note

Why Is “Rub” Rated R

  • Dialogue: Explicit dialogue
  • Violence: Fighting, Murder, Blood
  • Sexual Content: Sexual scenes, nude women.
  • Miscellaneous: Neil is in his underwear a lot.

Film Summary

The film commences by underscoring Neil’s pedestrian routine, which incrementally instigates his emotional erosion. He is subjected to rejection, humiliation, and incessant pestering from his mother to bring a pleasant woman to his cousin’s nuptials. Neil whittles his time away on online dating platforms, consuming explicit content and succumbing to emotional upheavals while standing before his mirror until his colleague Trevor presents him with a card to a local brothel. Initially, Neil displays an intense aversion to the proposition but ultimately buckles under the weight of his solitude. He yearns for a female companion, and this presents an opportunity for him to be in the company of a woman. His fascination with the sex worker, Perla, plunges him into deeper predicaments than he could have ever fathomed.

Review

Highlights

Love At First Touch

The viewers are given a deeply intimate glimpse into Neil and his suppressed sexuality. The woman who initially welcomes him can be interpreted as a madam, but Neil exhibits no hesitation in expressing his muddled lust toward her. She gently informs him that another woman will be assigned to him, and he disrobes in anticipation of her arrival. Their ensuing sensual exchange leaves Neil rejuvenated.

The following day, Neil’s animated presence at the office takes his co-workers by surprise. His newfound vigor seemed to have been catalyzed by a mere touch of affection and a moment of release. Regardless of one’s stance on Perla’s profession or Neil’s involvement in it, the film depicts it as a beneficial turn in his life. The sole detrimental repercussion manifests in the form of bullying from his co-workers, triggering yet another emotional implosion. This gripping scene captures Neil assaulting his boss, prompting a co-worker to proclaim in a hushed voice, “I f***ing love that guy!” The viewers can likely resonate with this moment, cheering for the underdog.

Sanctioned Support

After the brothel is invaded by hooligans, Neil and Perla find themselves on the run. Caught on camera during their escape, a high-speed chase ensues. In his scant attire, Neil makes a dash with Perla, who informs him of their precarious situation. After laying low in a hotel, a drastic change in appearance, and a passionate encounter, it becomes evident that Neil is smitten by Perla. Sharing past experiences and forming a connection during a moment of vulnerability, they find solace in each other.

This episode serves as the catalyst for their ensuing journey. Along the way, they encounter altruistic strangers like the motel clerk and West, who offer them support.

West welcomes them into his home and offers them a meal. Amid the tension of their current circumstances, they find a semblance of normalcy in his warm hospitality.

On-The-Fence

Psychedelic Sights

Following a homely dinner, they are surprised with a plate of magic mushrooms. Both Neil and Perla partake in this psychedelic experience, which gives the misguided protagonist a blissful moment with his newfound flame.

However, this moment of tranquillity is short-lived when he consumes cannabis offered by a hippie at the mechanic West’s place to extend his psychedelic experience. A vision from his childhood memories of a cabin located north leads him on a wild goose chase. Regrettably, he pilfers a truck from a generous man who had welcomed him into his home.

Finding himself alone and increasingly frustrated, he turns his anger towards Perla. He blames her for their predicament, even though he had made the decision to flee. He has become so enraptured by her that he may have lost sight of his own identity. Unfortunately, this is not the time for outbursts, because, upon his return from the gas station, he finds Perla with her throat slit. As he sits down, a gun is pointed at him.

Here, a non-diegetic monologue underscores his anguish and impending doom. Although the twist might seem intriguing, its purpose seems unclear. It doesn’t offer a fresh perspective on mental health, crime, or horror. It’s simply tragic. The movie excels at offering the audience hope, only to then hurl it into a furnace, evoking a flood of tears. I suppose this is the enchanting yet brutal charm of “Rub,” as the tagline aptly states, “Not All Endings Are Happy.”

Aesthetics Applied

The inconspicuous establishment tucked away in an alley reveals an interior that is surprisingly enchanting. This setting offers a unique ambiance, unlike any other scene in the film. It projects an intriguing blend of modern chic with a dash of dungeon aesthetics, leaving the viewer unsure of their feelings towards it. The soundtrack perfectly complements the other non-diegetic auditory elements.

Especially when it’s revealed that the innocent Perla was trafficked into this wretched existence. It prompts us to question why we are trying to find beauty in such grim realities. Is this an accurate representation? I’d rather have remained oblivious.

Character Descriptions

Neil

Neil Micah Spayer Rub
“Neil (Micah Spayer)” looking back in the alley, Rub, directed by Christopher Fox, 2023, (Prime Video)

An everyman yearning for a woman’s companionship despite his mundane job and limited social skills. He is prepared to drain his finances while living in fear, on the run, all in pursuit of the companionship of a captivating yet equally troubled soul.

Perla

Nail Micah Spayer Perla Jennifer Figueroa e1690932330398
“Neil (Micah Spayer)” and “Perla (Jennifer Figueroa)” tripping on shrooms, Rub, directed by Christopher Fox, 2023, (Prime Video)

A gentle and relatively composed character. She appears to be a kind-hearted individual grappling with harsh circumstances, having left the Dominican Republic with her cousin only to be ensnared in human trafficking.

Trevor

A co-worker of Neil who introduced the dark underbelly of finding love for hire in the cold streets.

West

He is a kind-hearted, spiritual, and sagacious man who doesn’t hesitate to extend his hospitality to strangers for reasons unknown.

Neil’s Boss

An extremely provoking character, and not in a good way. He laughed at Neil despite the fact that he was quiet and did not cause any trouble.

Detective Miller

 

Bryant Steven Strickland Miller Rob Figueroa Rub
“Detective Bryant (Steven Strickland)” and “ Detective Miller (Rob Figueroa)” having a chat with Neil’s coworker, Rub, directed by Christopher Fox, 2023, (Prime Video)

A diminutive officer with a proclivity for harshness.

Detective Bryant

The light-hearted officer whose comedic demeanor deceives suspects into underestimating him. Bryant often plays the role of an ice-breaker during interrogations.

Summary

In essence, the film adeptly underscores a myriad of struggles faced by humans in a moral dystopia. “Rub” effectively humanizes complex emotional landscapes of immigration, isolation, and corporate ennui, producing a multi-layered narrative. The characters’ dialogue and interactions encapsulate the more abstract themes, allowing for an array of interpretations. Its profound significance lies in its versatility, making it a remarkable cinematic achievement.

FAQs

What does the tagline “Not All Endings Are Happy” signify in the context of “Rub”?

The tagline alludes to the film’s conclusion, suggesting that the narrative might not follow the conventional trajectory toward a happy ending. It hints at a possibly tragic or poignant culmination, reflective of real-life complexities and hardships.

Who are the antagonists in “Rub”?

The main antagonists in “Rub” are Neil’s boss and the criminals involved in the human trafficking ring. However, societal norms, personal demons, and unfortunate circumstances also play antagonistic roles in this narrative.

What genre does “Rub” fall into and why?

“Rub” is a dramatic thriller with elements of romance and a tinge of psychological exploration. It also incorporates elements of crime and noir cinema due to its dark narrative elements.


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