“The Rover” is about as bleak a movie as there is, but if you’re a fan of David Michôd’s and Joel Edgerton’s work, this is the film for you. Directed by Michôd and written by Michôd and Edgerton, “The Rover” is suspenseful, violent and beautifully acted.
Set in future Australia ten years after what the film calls, “The Collapse,” (yes, it would be different to have a futuristic film where life is wonderful, but since the film only mentions Australia and the U.S. dollar is the preferred currency, maybe America is ok), Australia appears to be decimated. A lone car pulls up to some sort of café in the middle of nowhere. Out of the car steps a grubby, dirty, bearded man who we learn is named Eric (Guy Pearce). Then the scene quickly shifts to three men in a truck arguing rather violently and their argument causes their truck to crash. Unable to re-start the truck, they spot Eric’s car and make off with it. Outraged, Eric runs out of the café, manages to get their truck in gear and gives chase. There is a stand-off of sorts, but the three men escape. As Eric travels on, still determined to get his car, his path crosses with a severely wounded young man named Rey (Robert Pattinson). Rey turns out to be a brother of one of the car thieves, injured in an earlier conflict and left for dead by them. Forcefully getting Rey help for his wound, the two then form a weird bond which holds them in good stead through the twists, turns and conflicts that is the rest of the film.
Australians (albeit not by birth) Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe became familiar names in America with 1997s “LA Confidential.” While Crowe became more famous, Pearce has worked just as steadily, although appearing in less showy, big budget-type movies. In “The Rover” he might have less dialogue than in all his movies combined, but his stance, eyes and gait speak volumes. He’s utterly fantastic. Pearce makes you believe that with the loss of his car, he is literally at the end of his rope. Robert Pattinson is a complete revelation as the somewhat mentally challenged Rey. His accent seems off, but otherwise his performance is mesmerizing. His twitching, stuttering and wounded eyes really make his character a well-developed one, no matter how strange. Finally, the always interesting Scoot McNairy lends a sadistic touch to the film as Rey’s older brother.
“The Rover’s cinematography really does a fabulous job in portraying how raw, desolate and miserable the futuristic Australia has become. The amazing and very unusual instrumental score underlines the gloominess perfectly.
“The Rover” is most definitely not for everyone. It’s dark, violent and graphically bloody. But its ending is one we never see coming and really ties the movie together in a way one would never have anticipated.
I have been fascinated by the Edgerton brothers and David Michôd ever since I saw one of their earliest collaborations, “Spider.” Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to have a sit-down dinner with them together and find out what makes them tick. If you feel the same way, then “The Rover” is right up your alley.