Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Rover

Australia has a good reputation in cinema, managing to frequently put out some really good films. From the Mad Max trilogy to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Australia has a pretty good track record. Out now on Blu-Ray and DVD, The Rover is, at the heart of it, a film about a man and his car. But Mad Max this isn't. Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson star in what feels like director David Michôd's Australian version of The Road. The Rover is pretty damn bleak, and things don't get better for the characters as the film progresses. People die, quickly and suddenly, and the characters aren't exactly nice people. But if you like that sort of thing then The Rover is excellent. 

The film follows a man called Eric, portrayed by Guy Pearce, who on just an average day in the apocalypse has his car stolen. He angrily tries to get it back, fails, and meets the injured brother of one of the car hijackers, Rey, played by Robert Pattinson. Eric doesn't reveal why it is the car is so important to him but he makes Rey take him to where his brother will be so he can get it back. Along the way the two go through some more hardship including evil army soldiers, a gun selling dwarf and gunfights a plenty. During the road trip the two men eventually stop hating other, meaning the inevitable fight with Rey's brother will be even more complicated. Saying more would ruin it and the film isn't exactly over flowing with plot as it is. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing as it lets you appreciate the performances. The underrated Guy Pearce is as great as ever, really giving heart to his character who, in lesser hands, may have come off as a dick. Instead, because of Pearce's fantastic performance, we understand the evil things he does even though we don't fully know why he's doing them. 

A more surprising performance is Pattinson as Rey. I hadn't really ever seen Pattinson in anything that great up until this point but here, he knocks it out of the park. His character is a little mentally challenge and if not handled correctly his performance could have been very cringe worthy. Instead, Pattinson breathes life into the character and allows us to feel for him, even as he too does some pretty evil things. The film doesn't always have all the answers and for a lot of viewers this could be a bit frustrating. We don't know everyone's motivation, nor do we know all the outcomes but this doesn't really matter. The film isn't as much concerned with what started this apocalypse as it is with showing us how people are dealing with it. Again, this sort of storytelling might be frustrating for some but I personally really like it. Michôd’s direction is also top notch and the film has some great cinematography too. The film really manages to communicate the bleakness and the isolation in this apocalypse and the natural landscape of Australia doesn’t hurt either.

The Rover might not be everyone’s cup of tea; for some people it may be too slow, or too bleak, or to opaque, and sometimes it is but I personally really enjoyed it. The Rover is a gritty and rewarding road movie with some really great performances especially by Robert Pattinson. Not every question has an answer but that’s alright, it’s just the world the film has created. Not for everyone, but I personally loved every minute of it and it’s an easy recommendation for fans of Pearce or Pattinson but for fans of intelligent films it’s a must watch.

The Rover gets a very good 4/5.


Tom Bumby

The Rover at CeX

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