The Rover, 2014.
Directed by David Michôd.
Starring Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy, and Tawanda Manyimo.
10 years after a global economic collapse, a hardened loner pursues the men who stole his only possession, his car. Along the way, he captures one of the thieves’ brother, and the duo form an uneasy bond during the dangerous journey.
Movies like The Rover do not come around often and some would argue that they don’t come often enough. But this year alone we have seen this type of story told by Out of the Furnace and Blue Ruin to almost better effect. That’s not to say you should discredit The Rover as some other movies have a similar vibe, because this is a movie that demands to be seen.
Guy Pearce is at an all-time best as the quiet and stoic Eric who lives his peaceful life in an economic collapsed world who then has his life taken into a whirlwind of blood, guns and violence when his car is stolen by a group of thugs. Now looking for to get his car back, he travels with one of the groups discarded members – a brilliant Robert Pattinson – on a cross-country trip of trust, loyalty and what it means to be a family.
It really is hard to put into words the tone and power that a movie like The Rover holds over its audience. With little to no music, infrequent amounts of dialogue and the bleakest of bleak landscapes, David Michôd commands his audience and never lets them take their eyes off the screen. This is a movie where very little happens but, unlike indie-firic movies like Happy Christmas, it has a point and it serves a purpose. Every single moment of the movie is building and leading towards something else with not a frame wasted. Michôd, who spent 10-years working on Animal Kingdom, is a director who cares about his output and the quality of movie his name is attached to.
Much praise has been given to the excellent performance of Guy Pearce, who is a total 180 from his studio outings like Iron Man 3 and he really is the backbone of this movie. Rarely is he off screen and every one of his actions, no matter how outlandish, seems justified by the pain behind his eyes. And while he is the glue that holds this sparse movie together, it’s Robert Pattinson who is the true star performer. Gone is the bland, wide-eyed and expressionless former Twilight tween-sensation and in his place is one of the finest character performances seen this year. Pattinson completely disappears into the role of Rey and is almost unrecognisable compared to the man who at one point could not get off the front cover of Heat magazine. With performances like this, he might finally be able to be taken seriously by the masses who unfairly label him with a film series that died years ago.
Reviewing a movie like David Michôd’s The Rover is not an easy task. It’s a movie in which the simple story is elevated by magnificent performances, is shot beautifully and is effortlessly poetic. But it needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. Words can say that Guy Pearce is tremendous and that this is a career best for Robert Pattinson, but you can’t appreciate just how good they are until you see the film as a whole. In a year that has also seen Out of the Furnace and Blue Ruin, The Rover brings nothing new, fresh or interesting to the genre – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a superb film. It’s certainly not for everyone, but those who can enjoy the ride will get something in return.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.
Listen to the Flickering Myth Podcast with David Michôd, Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson here.