I dig these little indie films in the summer. They are bright spot of film-making in the sea of Hollywood’s, in-your-face block-buster season. It’s good to not always be smashed in the face with explosions, or 80 % CGI something or other for a change. Good to have other options, that’s all I’m saying. And we get an excellent option here with director David Michod’s The Rover.
It’s ten years after the economic collapse in Australia. Hardened by the times, Eric spends his time driving to nearby towns to find food and supplies. One day, men steal his prized possession, his car. He pursues the men with a vengeance, and along the way happens upon the brother of one of the thieves. Together, they form an uneasy bond on their dangerous journey.
The Rover is a gritty, revenge film awash in the dry tans and browns of the Australian desert. A little like Mad Max 2 but lower key, and uh, no crazy characters named “The Humungous”. This film is so much about the characters, and they are all great. And this is one of those films that make you look back and see it all a bit differently at the end. I really like that.
Guy Pearce is always great and this is no exception. His Eric is determined, cold on the exterior, but is not without moments of sadness. But perhaps more for what it seems humanity has lost, rather than simply the tragedy of his own past that he tells a police/military soldier in an important scene. But perhaps even more impressive yet is Robert Pattinson, who plays Rey, the brother of one of the men that stole Eric’s car. Rey’s close-shaven head and thick southern trailer-park drawl is only part of how Pattinson buries any resemblance to the sparkly, emo vampire from the Twilight movies. He;s a bit mentally challenged and it makes him seem shy, and simple. Frankly, I almost didn’t recognize him. I haven’t seen him in much, but his talent is obvious to me here.
Eric and Rey cross paths after Rey was left behind by his brother Henry (Scoot McNairy) during a confrontation with some soldiers. As Henry and his mates escape, they end up stealing Eric’s car which compels Eric to persue them relentlessly. When he meets Rey, they are very much on oppostite sides. But Rey begin’s to wonder why his brother left him behind, and as he and Eric travel together, they must face the same dangers in this nearly lawless terrain. Soon, their goals appear not so different, and a bond grows bwtween them.
The Rover culminates just the way it should, and with a last shot that puts the whole of the film in a new context, I must say that I was impressed, if not a little moved. I really enjoyed this and surely it’s worthy of four kittenhands. Definitely recommended.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, putting The Rover in my list of favorites this summer.