The Rover (2014) – Review

Directed by David Michod
Written by David Michod from Joel Edgerton & David Michod
Starring Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson
10 years after a global economic collapse, a hardened loner pursues the men who stole his only possession, his car. Along the way, he captures one of the thieves’ brother, and the duo form an uneasy bond during the dangerous journey.

Point to note. Never, ever, steal Guy Pearce’s car. Also, for the record, please note that he really doesn’t like to haggle over the price of stuff. A decade after ‘The Collapse’ (whatever that was), the arse-end of Australia doesn’t appear to have changed all that much. It’s still just as hot, dusty and full of interesting ways to get killed as it ever was. Now, however, we apparently have more men on the edge, ready to do very stupid things for what, only a decade earlier, might have seemed foolhardy reasons.
I mean really, if you had had your car pinched in the middle of nowhere, would you go chasing the men that stole it when there was a very high likelihood indeed that it would cost you a whole lot more than the price of a bus fare to wherever it was you were going instead? (okay, I know, no buses, but you get the drift). Still, a lack of basis conveniences, like food, water, electricity and fuel is going to make most people feel a little bit antsy, and so is the case of the featured players here.
Australia, as already mentioned, is not always the most hospitable of places. Certain areas make Scotland look like Florida by comparison and David Michod has captured not only the look and feel of the place ten years after societal collapse (who said Mad Max?) but also the ruination of something that wasn’t that auspicious to begin with. Nobody trusts anyone, everyone carries a gun and so much as blow your nose in the wrong direction and your going to be enjoying several extra orifices in your head that you weren’t previously expecting.
The opportunity for character development is rare here, certainly for Pearce’s character, Eric. This is a man that appears to have lost everything from a life previously adorned with a certain amount of luxuries, not least the aforementioned car that he is now being forced to chase in what early on, we can only assume is a Michael-Douglas-Falling-Down interpretation of vigilante justice. This man has just about had enough of all this shit, and by golly, he’s finally going to put his foot down and do something about it.

That is what it looks like, but you’re never left knowing anything more than that and subsequently are forced to assume these things as Eric’s back-story is practically non-existent. There is mention, albeit brief however, of a previous career about an hour in. “I was a farmer and now I’m here.” Also there is an admission of guilt from his past, but much more than that? We know he doesn’t suffer fools gladly and is not overly fond of the vertically challenged, but aside from that, all we can really say is that he really, really likes his car.

In a lucky happenstance for Eric, us and the film, it seems that the very same men that stole his car also left behind something. This something comes in the form of Robert Pattinson, playing the part of Rey, brother to one of the car thieves, that they assumed they had left for dead. Eric picks him up on his travels and gets him to a doctor in the middle of nowhere, for the sole reason that he may be able to lead him to his brother and therefore, his car.

So begins their journey together. Eric, still clearly steaming about the loss of his prized (and only, it seems) possession and the dim-witted Rey, that is clearly at least a couple of bottles short of a six-pack. As you can imagine, the mostly silent but very deadly Eric and his new kidnapped victim in the making don’t make for very comfortable bedfellows and the script reflects this very well, making their conversations both laboured and frustratingly repetitive, as neither are too keen to share.

“You should never stop thinking about the life you’ve taken. It’s the price you pay for taking it.” 

Events turn somewhat on their heads on a number of occasions and Eric is forced to rethink his opinion of his new captive when without him, his continued search would have become impossible and whilst clearly filled with something ugly, dark and powerful, he is forced to concede that there may still be an element of humanity left in a world that he has already turned his back on.
The performances from Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson are both excellent and there is little that can be faulted form either of them. Possibly, this is Pattinson best performance to date, in fact. Pearce’s Erci, a loner and survivor is passionate about few things, but the point of his quarry will enable the audience to gain some closure to the whole story, even if his arc is never developed. Pattinson’s Rey is subtle, nuanced and delivered with perfection, even if you as a viewer, question his motives by the end of the film. Stunning cinematography and impeccable location choices make this truly an apocalyptic version of possible events. An all round fantastic production, but not for the impatient, as what little exposition here is akin to pulling teeth. If you have seen the equally brilliant Blue Ruin this year, then you will also love this. Recommended.

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