Cert: 15 / 103 mins / Dir. David Michôd
The lengthy, unbroken opening shot of David Michôd's The Rover gives you a precise measure of how the film is going to be delivered. Natasha Braier's camera moves slowly, quietly, but never lazily towards its subject in exactly the same was as the screenplay teases out gems of background information whilst the story unravels with bleak intent. A title card reads "Ten years after the collapse", but doesn't go on to furnish us with details of exactly what collapsed, or how widely its effects are being felt. All that matters is where the characters are now, and what they're dealing with (or not dealing with, as the case may be).
Set in Australia during a time of worryingly contemporary societal breakdown, gruff loner Eric (played by Guy Pearce) has his car stolen by three armed robbers. After a failed attempt to recover it, he's left for dead in the outback where circumstance unites him with the brother of one of the outlaws (played by Robert Pattinson), who was also abandoned after a botched raid. The two form an uneasy (and largely unspoken) alliance to track the gang down and each set their respective records straight. But in this landscape, strangers aren't to be spoken to, and fewer are to be trusted.
The economical script paired with a solid screenplay gives Pearce the opportunity to turn in a very physical performance as Eric, which he does with grim ease. When he speaks, he's articulate, but guttural and direct, with a glint just short of desperation in his eye. Also on fantastic form is Pattinson as the socially inept Rey, in a performance which could be attributed to his character suffering from learning disabilities, or just the collapse of society and lack of education; the effect here is much the same, and he's outstanding either way.
The film is reminiscent of Blue Ruin in tone, and while it may not have the same emotional spark, it shares the raw tension and constant sense of impending violence. The only downside is that with a cinematic release as limited as The Rover has had, its intended audience may well miss it on the big screen and have to watch those Australian dustscapes and sunsets at home.
The best line comes from the world's most unenthusiastic gun salesman:
"If you don't have 300, you can fuck off."
To be fair, you really have to see that in context…
The film's has some darkly comic moments, but other than that, yeah.
The cinematography's gorgeous on a big screen, but the story will work just as well on DVD/BluRay.
I will, but not for a while.
Didn't catch one..
Given that Pattinson's focused, energetic performance works well here, which other genres would you like to see him try?
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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