Director: David Michôd
Writers: David Michôd, Joel Edgerton
Cast: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy
Runtime: 102 min
Summer road-trip films have always been family favourites, as they not only combine comedy with inspiring landscape, but they portray a journey that will eventually lead to a destination that will somehow change the characters. The Rover brings a completely bleak and different alternative to your classic summer journey film, doing so with terrific grit and precise artistry.
10 years after a devastating economic collapse in Australia, society has crumbled; the roads are empty and the people silent. When lonesome traveler Eric (Guy Pearce) finds that his car was stolen while making a pit stop, he is determined to stop at nothing to get it back. Along the way he meets Rey (Robert Pattinson), a seemingly weak boy who will be the key in assuring the success of his journey. Together they will make way to get back Eric’s car, while developing a strange camaraderie in a world that has taught them to mistrust and alienate everyone who could possibly threaten one’s own safety.
The chemistry between Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson is simply electric, and it’s a mix I never thought about seeing together. The relationship between Eric and Rey completely drives the viewer, and it’s what most intrigued and interested me throughout the duration of the feature. Pattinson truly holds his own against Guy Pearce’s fierce but measured Eric, and I was pleasantly surprised to see he is successfully continuing to break out of the teenage heartthrob shell the Twilight series inevitably built around him. I would like to think of The Rover as a more sophisticated alternative to this season’s anticipated 22 Jump Street, if one is eager to explore the thrills of two men on a mission. The rest of the cast does a very good job of providing the barren landscape with a hostile and mysterious atmosphere that is the perfect setting for the relationship between the two leading men to develop.
I expect many will argue that The Rover’s biggest weakness lies in its lack of completion and explanation, something that time and time again frustrates viewers, and completely alienates them from the sense of catharsis and satisfaction most spectators seek when going to the movies. However, I am convinced that the magic of this film lies not in its conclusion, but rather in the carefully crafted tension each individual carries within them throughout the whole film. Don’t question what will happen once the character finds his car, question why he seeks it with such conviction. If one is open to receiving this film with an open mind and a willingness to provide one’s own hypothesis on the character’s intentions, then it will be completely rewarding. If long journeys with little dialogue are not your thing, however, you might want to skip this one.
Lack of completion aside, I found the script of The Rover to be practically flawless. There is no unnecessary dialogue, and with this, no unnecessary conflict created by the dialogue. Actions are sharp, unexpected, and intriguing. Musically the film is also superb, with a slow yet high strung soundtrack that perfectly sets the mood for Eric and Rey’s lonesome journey. The cinematography also matched the mood, and the long shots of the barren outback once again bring the whole movie together and assist in the creation of that vital feeling of abandonment and desperation. Overall the film excels formally, and despite being completely full of very violent instances, they all seem coherent in the story.
I am admittedly a great fan of long films with long shots and long pauses between dialogue. With The Rover I found that my time was absolutely worth spending watching the film, and I am thoroughly excited that this movie is coming out in the summer, a somehow dangerous decision seeing as it is definitely not your feel-good summer road trip film, but a refreshing alternative for those of us who prefer a more toned done venture in a season full of explosions and superheroes.