The Rover (2014)

  • Director – David Michod
  • Starring – Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy
  • Writer – David Michod (Story, Screenplay), Joel Edgerton (Story)
  • Year – 2014
  • Running Time – 102 minutes

 

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How far would you go and for what?

Have you ever woken up at night, not quite sure where you are or how you got there?  Well, this is a very similar feeling to the opening of The Rover, when director David Michod who previously brought us the Australian powerhouse Animal Kingdom, throws us straight into the middle of the unforgiving Australian outback and straight into the repercussions of a robbery gone wrong.

Set ’10 years after the collapse’ The Rover paints a picture of an unsettling, dangerous and diverse future, where survival depends on uneasy and temporary alliances.  Material positions are limited, hard to come by and what you have, you guard and defend with your life.  Visual clues litter the landscape, which hint at what may have led to ‘the collapse’ but the true nature is never explained, nor is it needed.  What is important is the present; the past does not matter and the future uncertain.

It is this survivalist instinct that drives Eric (Guy Pearce), a weather worn Australian loner, forward in an endless pursuit of his vehicle, stolen by a trio of road bandits.  To aid his pursuit, Eric teams up with Rey (Robert Pattinson), the naïve and simple brother of one of the trio who was left behind injured and bleeding, after the unseen robbery went awry.

This temporary alliance between Eric and Rey is at the heart of this film.  Eric is stonily determined, with a single, unwavering focus.  Rey is lost, confused and looking to be led.  Pearce is impressive and dependable as always, capturing the spirit and harshness of his circumstance, whilst Pattinson loses himself into Rey.  Pattinson has to tread a fine line here, and whilst occasionally wandering into the realms of caricature, overall he captures Rey’s obvious confusion and frustration with dignity and depth.

The road drives the pair forward with occasional brief and violent stops, which further underscore, but never really explain the realties and dangers of this near future. Off road though the world opens up.  Natasha Briar, the cinematographer captures the outback in startling form, blending background beauty with foreground detail to glorious effect.  Small details whizz by the windscreen, which leave you questioning what you think you just saw and when added together, provide potential hints and clues to the origins of it all.

There is no doubt that The Rover is going to be a divisive film.  Some will question the point and purpose of it all, but for others, the journey is more important than the destination. And if you decide to go, you will be rewarded with a renewed belief in the human spirit told through this dystopian tale of dedication and determination.

★★★★

Review by Will Malone

If you liked The Rover, then try Lockout.