MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Rover’

the rover

Film: The Rover
Starring: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson
Directed by: David Michôd

The Rover stands out as another stellar release from A24 Films this year. After releasing an already strong slate of films including Enemy, Under The Skin, and Locke, it seems that the indie film niche that the distributor has found is fruitful for cinematic gems. Anyway, Guy Pearce plays a man with nothing to lose in the unforgivable post-apocalyptic wasteland that is now the Australian outback. After getting his car stolen, he goes on a journey to find the men that did the deed and exact justice. It just so happened that along the way he meets Rey–the brother of one of the robbers who jacked his car–and brings him along for his ride toward vengeance.

I know, the plot kind of sounds like something every vigilante superhero would partake in. That isn’t the case though as Pearce plays a man who is the brooding equivalent of a hockey parent that yells at the referees and gets inside their head. I know it’s a weird analogy but with the minimalistic and sparse dialogue that Pearce is given, he owns every syllable of it. He takes an archetype of a man fueled by revenge and somehow still makes his presence feel fresh. Naturally, no good lead is without a great supporting cast, and boy oh boy does The Rover pull out fantastic supporting performances.

Robert Pattinson, and I say this without any hesitation in my words, has finally transcended his Twilight fame to deliver a performance unlike anything he has ever done, and better, too. He plays the cinematic equal of an insecure small child trying to make whomever he is close with proud. A certain music cue about three quarters through the film goes to support this fact as he sings along with one of the most childish pop hits of the past couple of years. That isn’t to downplay his commanding presence though, Pattinson shows that he can act with the best of them and I personally can’t wait to see what he does next. Scoot McNairy (Argo, Monsters, Killing Them Softly) even shows up to play Rey’s criminal brother who is compelling in the scant amount of scenes he is in.

Director David Michôd, who previously directed the criminally underrated Animal Kingdom, brings his greatest talent to the screen. That talent is the ability to make a film that is so downright ugly to its core and makes it achingly beautiful. The Australian outback, although desolate, still makes a case as one of Earth’s mightiest beauties. Michôd chose the perfect location, as the outback is an animal in itself, driving all the characters to some kind and degree of madness.

Michôd loves exploring the depraved and violent minds of men, which is overly evident with The Rover. He takes no licks with showing the audience the lengths unto which a man would go to right a wrong. The film likes to sport very short instances of shocking violence. Those instances are so very effective due to the film’s mostly slow and gestating pacing. You feel every bullet rung out and the aftermath is one to behold. Pearce is in his most intense role yet and the feeling of mortality/death that he employs emanates from the screen onto the audience.

If there was one gripe I had with an otherwise stellar film, it’s the runtime. We get many sustained shots of the desert, Pearce staring into space, and Pattinson looking insecure. For those that can’t sit still, I don’t recommend The Rover. For those that are patient, The Rover is one of the most rewarding films you will see this year. Prepare for a dark and bleak trip down a violent rabbit hole, though. Hang on; it’s a wild ride.

GRADE: B+

Review written by: Sam Cohen — (Follow him on Twitter)

Sam Cohen

Sam Cohen is that guy you can't have a conversation with without bringing up Michael Mann. He is also incapable of separating himself from his teenage angst (looking at you, Yellowcard). Read on as he tries to formulate words about movies!
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.