Big Screen :: The Rover

July 2nd 2014


In case you were wondering the atmosphere is bleak, and the mood is utter dread…

David Michôd‘s new movie The Rover is about one mans quest across a post disaster wasteland to get his car back.

That’s it…

Its just a normal looking sedan too, but it’s obviously really important to him. I guess he is a real car enthusiast. Like one of those fast and the furious guys. I say this because A LOT of people die for the sake of this car.

It’s odd because Michôd’s last film Animal Kingdom was this intricately plotted ensemble piece. The Rover’s narrative simplicity could not be more different. This film is all about atmosphere and mood, and in case you were wondering the atmosphere is bleak, and the mood is utter dread.

It opens by telling us that the film is set in Australia ten years after “the collapse”. It looks like some sort of economic meltdown has led to an almost complete withdrawal of government, law and order. Society has crumbled, every one is for themselves and life is very cheap.

It was all filmed in outback South Australia. Having spent far too long in outback South Australia working I can attest that they picked a good location to capture this atmosphere.

I was compelled by this vision of collapse. It’s a completely understandable, believable catastrophe. Take away our wealth and our rules and you could easily imagine this is what a third world Australia would look like. It was a fascinating backdrop to play out this simple little story.

Guy Pearce is great as the title character. The Rover is this guy with nothing to live for but that keeps moving and destroying anyway, unable to stop. Its a performance of internal fury, and its pretty amazing to watch.

Let’s take a minute to pause now, though, and reflect on the elephant in the room: Mr Robert Pattinson.


I have never seen anything to indicate that this guy is more than a model with an accidental movie career. This includes the dreadful Cronenberg adaptation of “Cosmopolis”. Here though he was a genuine surprise.

He plays Rey, a barely functional person who might be able to help find this damn car. He is really set a task too, given that I have never seen him convincingly replicate basic human behavior, and here he is trying to play a guy with deep southern accent, maybe slightly disabled and just a mess of twitches and jerks and stutters.

Pattinson is acting his arse off and if he didn’t have the chops he would capsize the whole movie and look like an idiot next to Pearce, who is giving a very different performance. It’s a credit to the guy though, because he really pulls it off. I honestly thought he was amazing.

I think this films ambition is almost too modest, but it achieves what it sets out to do. Whether or not you want to watch it is up to you, it’s unrelenting grim. I liked it, but it won’t be for everyone.

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