As we’ve seen recently, lots of films have been getting caught up in trying to tell many different stories within their short run time. Very few can ever pull it off, but you’re always left with incomplete aspects of the film that take away from the overall experience. Nothing is ever simple and there always have to be some kinds of twists too. Gone were the days of straight-forward films that focused on one story and only a couple of key actors. Well, I’m happy to say that we can finally return to that time with this film.
It’s been ten years after the world fell apart, known as an event called “the collapse”. For those who have survived, they inhabit a barren world with barely enough resources to get by. There’s hardly any law and all rules of a post-apocalyptic society come into play. In Australia, Eric (Guy Pearce) roams the desert in his car, the item he holds most dear to his heart. After parking it and heading in for a drink at the only bar for miles, another car comes sliding down the road and the men inside of it are clearly injured. In a hurry to leave, the men (Scoot McNairy, Tawanda Manyimo, David Field) hi-jack Eric’s car and take off down the dusty road. Furious, Eric manages to get their car going and chases down the men.
Unfortunately for Eric, the men get away and Eric is left wandering the wasteland to try to find these men. While Eric searches for the men, one of the men is in grief because he left his brother to die. Funnily enough, Eric comes across a wounded young man named Rey (Robert Pattinson), who recognizes the car that he’s driving. Rey is in critical condition and Eric saves him, only for the purpose of finding out where his brother and his car are headed. The two have to work together to keep alive and on the tail and along the way, they both represent different aspects of how the world around them has changed them.
The Rover is a fairly simple film that deals with a lot of complex characters and a new look at post-apocalyptia. The Australian outback setting tells you all you need to know about living conditions and the portrayal of events in this dreary setting are what make this film so much more than “simple”. Two great performances from Pearce and Pattinson really carry this story and their complex relationship makes this film all the more engrossing. More than anything, this film breaks off from conventionalism and decides to tell the story it wants through the characters it has. Boy, do I wish more films could do that.
Guy Pearce is a hell of a guy, evidenced by his ability to play nearly every type of role with ease and excellence. As our unnamed anti-hero, his motivations couldn’t be more-clear and I never doubted that there was nothing he wouldn’t do to get his car back. To some, the premise of the character wanting his car seemed dumb. However, in a world where money is “just paper” and murder is everywhere, having a car is a huge deal. Due to this fact, Pearce is relentless in finding his most favorite possession and his ruthlessness further set the dark tone. I felt the fear of those who stood in his way when he would repeat his questions and demands. Pearce is absolutely captivating, while never going over or underboard.
Robert Pattinson, forever burdened by his Twilight days, continues to solidify himself as one of the best actors of his age. While he’s had strong performances in Water For Elephants and Cosmopolis, his portrayal of Rey is the best thing he’s done yet. Balancing fear and emotional instability, Pattinson’s Rey is always tense and is clearly a product of his environment. From the accent to the twitchy mannerisms, it’s clear that Rey isn’t entirely all there, but his heart is in the right place and he just doesn’t grasp every situation clearly. The amount of emotion and reasoning he puts into his character is a testament to his superb ability and I’m so happy to see him doing great work in a really great film.
David Michod‘s direction and Joel Edgerton‘s script seems like minimalism at its finest. That may be somewhat-true, but I also believe that he creatively and smartly uses lingering shots and slow pans to put you in the perspective of the characters. There’s not too much to see and do and many people spend their time wandering and looking around. Fear and adaptation to a terrible surrounding are also emphasized with the camera work and anticipation was always building. The score was certainly an interesting one, but it did match up nicely with the mood of the scene and the emotions of the characters. It all works very well together and if it was a minimalist job, then I say “job well done!”
This film benefits a refreshing look at the post-apocalyptic world, primarily because it wastes no time exploring why and how things went wrong. We jump right into the life of someone who’s survived that and we see the degradation of the world through his eyes and his experiences. This storytelling method allows for more focus on the characters, while also allowing their reactions to certain events tell stories of their own. With such a diverse range characters, we’re also exposed to the many possibilities of survival that exist in this world and we can infer the things they’ve seen and done to make it this far. This is how more films should be done, because too often they get caught up in their own world and lose the value of story and characters.
The Rover is a very slow burner and I didn’t necessarily mind that, but I’m fairly certain that many will take issue with that. There’s not going to be enough dialogue for some and the shots will go on for far too long for others, but I suppose I’m not bothered by that. At the end of the day, The Rover manages to tell a surprisingly simple story in a complex and different manner. The means by which it accomplishes those feats is superb and the extraordinary lead acting only benefits this film more. If you’re in to these types of films, I’d highly recommend you check this one out!
The Rover Trailer