The world is in utter chaos after a total economic collapse which pits man against man, dog, and the rudimentary elements of life. “The Rover” stars Guy Pierce, Eric, (although unnamed throughout the movie. It was only through an internet search that his name was ascertained, as the character himself refused repeatedly to divulge it) and Rey, Robert Pattinson. This is a world in which the very staples of life, food, gas, and decent clothing are commodities which people are willing to fight and die for.
“The Rover” is a film filled with contradictions, gaping holes and many, many questions. It begins with a group of men, clearly bandits, who have been in a shootout, and left one of their own to die. (Robert Pattinson). The men and they vary in ages, wreck their truck and steal a car, which happens to be Eric’s car. Eric chases them to recover his car and happens upon Rey (Robert Pattinson) and thus enlists him in his plan to track down and reclaim his car. Will they get it back? What will happen if they and when they do?
The question is not if he will get his car, back but who are these people and why are they leading such desperate, depressive lives? Eric looks like he has not taken a shower in months, flies crawl up his nose, and he does not care. To say he is stoic would be an understatement. That he is driven is clear, but what drives him? He says little, till the very end and yet what little he does say, shows he is a man with little to lose, and whose ability to show empathy has been destroyed.
What helps this film immeasurably are the standout performances of the cast. Guy Pierce’s character is one of silent rage. It seems he cares for little and no one. He smolders and fumes in every frame, using every ounce of his energy toward the single purpose of retrieving his car. The car itself symbolizes his independence from the world collapsing around him, thus his gaining it back, would in some small way; give him control in a world in which lack of control seems to be the pervading theme.
This brings us to Rey, Robert Pattinson. When he joins the story it gets a much needed boost. Rey is the brother of the men who took Eric’s car. However, Rey is different. He has facial tics, finds it difficult to speak, his words coming out in a broken rhythm, and yet, beneath it, there is a shattered and gentle soul. His converses with Eric, out of a need to fill a vacuum not realizing that he is forming a bond between them, that in turn may bring Eric out of the silent ugly world in which he lives.
“The Rover” is a small evocative film which speaks at a minimalist level on how a global change in the world (such as an economic collapse) could affect people at a microcosmic level. While the theme itself, man’s existence being so decimated that he becomes a rage filled warrior out to grab what little can to subsist, may seem too dark, given the global economic climate in which we live, the fear is not without merit.
What hurts this film is the lack of likeable characters, and the length. To say the film drags is an understatement. It creeps. It is depressive, dark, ugly and ultimately the themes it is trying to convey become oppressive. There is no way out from such a bleak existence except suicide, which in this world would be a blessing. This heaviness is what makes the film drag, and the viewer wonder when will it end? How will it all end? And finally, please end it. If it can be said, without sounding insensitive to those who are depressive, one hopes for suicide from such a dour and inhumane world. For if this is the way in which humanity finds its end then truly suicide would be the kindest means.