By Michael Klafatis (Stoke on Trent)
The Rover takes place in Australia “10 years after the collapse”, an event that it is scarcely mention by the main characters or by its writer/ director David Michod. The film starts with a close up on Eric (Guy Pearce) who sits in his car looking very melancholic as he steps out and get into an Oriental diner, meanwhile Henry (Scoot McNairy) and his two bandits friends are on the run in a fast moving vehicle, Henry is wounded by a bullet on his left leg, their vehicle crashes after a heated argument and they see Eric’s car and they steal it. Eric sees them and takes their beaten down vehicle and pursue them and when they stop Eric tell them “I want my car back” this the first time Eric talks, the gang beats him up and they leave him all alone on the side of the road. Then we cut back from the scene where Henry and his gang were so much in a hurry to get way from, we see Rey (Robert Pattison) lying on the ground leaking blood, he takes an abandon vehicle to go find his brother Henry but he ends up finding Eric as he drives Henry’s car. So Eric and Rey join forces to find Henry each one for their own reasons but the plot mostly focuses on Eric’s struggle to recover his car and the reason why he needs his car so desperately.
The characters of Pearce and Pattison are very alike but very different at the same time, Pearce is a man of few words, a man haunted by his past. Pattison character can’t sit even for a moment without talking, he resembles Toby Kebbell’s Antony in Shane Meadows Dead Man’s Shoes, both characters are linked with strong survival instincts, also another good performance is from Scott McNairy who once again proves that he is one of the best character actors currently working in Hollywood and is no wonder why (12 Years a Slave, Killing Them Softly, Argo).The open and bleak landscapes are very reminiscent of a western film and they mostly brings in mind the Mad Max films that are also made in Australia, so they are obviously one of the main sources of influence in The Rover that it would be not be a major surprise if they would inhabit the same world.
The Rover is a very pessimistic film, even its protagonist are not people who would you want to interact with, is one of the few dystopia films in which the definition of the word dystopia totally engulfed the whole film without a sign of hope on the horizon, it is futility in all its glory until the credits roll. The score by Antony Partos is fitting and very ominous and it enhances and makes the film more effective and the most powerful scenes are more effective because of the brilliance of the score. With the exploration of themes like despair, distrust, futility, and death in beginning and middle part of the film, the third and last part ends up being a bit underwhelming and it does not provide the payoff that the film has been building towards and it is a bit sad, as its two leads provide very strong performances and the film is gripping because of those performances. As the film is very sparse and the plot is one of its weakest part.
Verdict: Overall The Rover had the material to become film of the year but its weak ending and its elusive nature makes it a less satisfying film as a whole but the stellar performances by Pearce and Pattison, the direction by David Michod who films it in a very naturalistic style, makes The Rover overweight its disadvantages and make for an intriguing film.