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David Michod’s The Rover is one out of left field, with an original story set in an intimate, dystopian setting. Impressively strong performances from Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson keep you hooked, while the movie’s pure intensity provides a solid pace and consistency.
Ten years after an economic crisis, stern drifter Eric (Pearce) travels across a dystopian Australian outback in order to track down the gang of men who stole his last possession- his car. Eric comes in contact with Rey (Pattinson), a young, wounded member of the same gang, and forces him to lead them to their location.
Michod is able to create this very bleak and lifeless world and use it to his advantage. Using oddball settings like a rundown motel and a child prostitution house, the story really pushes boundaries to show you just how awful life in the movie would be. The scale used is also very noticeable, by using large landscape shots, but focusing on a very intimate story. The lack of explaining plot details is beneficial in this case, keeping your imagination open to what’s going on.
In actuality, it’s hard to figure The Rover is set just ten years in the future. I mean, an economic downfall seems pretty drastic, but you can’t help but wonder if the Australian outback is the only place on Earth effected. There are probably less than thirty people shown in the film in total, and you’d think some sort of military would be present (aside from the few roaming soldiers we see) unless the economic collapse led to larger problems afterwards.
Pearce shows once again that he can carry a film by playing the character you end up both fearing and feeling sympathetic for. His character is so cold-blooded and stern that he never seems to blink an eye (even with a solid use of flies buzzing around him). He takes command with only a handful of dialogue, though the lines he does have are shown with sheer force. You spend a decent amount of time deciphering what kind of man his character is, and throughout the film you’re left wondering more about his background.
Pattinson is probably the most surprising part about The Rover, proving that he deserves a lot more credit as an actor than just “that guy from Twilight”. We saw solid dramatic acting from him previously in movies like Water for Elephants a few years back, but this sets a whole new level of appreciation for his talent. He is able to pull off this sort of simple-man character and pairs up extremely well with Guy Pearce’s character.
Overall, Michod is able to deliver a straightforward, well-played crime thriller fronted by the surprising power duo of Pearce and Pattinson. This is a great alternative to the waves of Summer blockbusters, and is definitely something to keep an eye out for.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 buzzing flies
– Josh Sazin, 6/27/14