MOVIE REVIEW | The Rover (2014)

“You don’t learn to fight, your death’s gonna come real soon”.

To make a movie in Australia, any movie, is a pretty big and rare achievement. There just isn’t a lot of money floating around, or massive studio system to fund them. To make a movie in Australia that gets noticed by a mainstream audience locally, or especially in America, is an even bigger achievement. To be an Australian whose debut movie gets Oscar attention is all but unheard of. Which is why David Michod’s follow up to Animal Kingdom has been one of the movies I’ve looked forward to in 2014. Which is also why I’ve really been wanting The Rover to be awesome

Opening “10 years after the collapse” on the dusty, desert roads of outback Australia, “the collapse” never gets any more explanation, but this is some destruction of civilisation type shit we’re dealing with here. Stopping at a ramshackle bar, Eric (Guy Pearce) is complacent enough to have his car stolen by three dudes obviously on the run from something. Their cryptic, panic fuelled conversation lets us know that their current predicament has something to do with one of the three, Scoot McNairy as Henry, and his absent brother.

On a ruthless mission to retrieve his car, Eric meets the absent brother, Robert Pattinson as the seriously injured Rey. Making the connection between Rey and the car thieves, Eric decides Rey might be the key to getting his car back. This is the kind of movie where everyone has a dark past, a tragic back story, and some sort of explanation for their cold, emotionless present day selves.

Slow is one way to describe The Rover, but that comes with negative connotations that it in no way deserves. Deliberate might be a better descriptor. There isn’t a single piece of superfluous or indulgent dialogue. Personified especially by Eric, every single word and action is the bare minimum to get the job done. So while that leads to the odd stretch of seemingly not much going on, it more than paid off once I was in the rhythm of this movie and the economy only became more impressive.

The Rover is a much more ambitious movie than Animal Kingdom and I really liked that about it. As great as his debut was, Michod was making a pretty standard guns and low level gangsters story. He did it really well, but there wasn’t anything terribly different or unfamiliar about it. With The Rover, he’s built an entire new world from scratch, and populated it with the kind of characters who might be living in a world that none of us could ever understand and committing acts that we could never contemplate. But at the same time, they’re totally believable because they’re somehow relatable.

The Rover might not be getting the same kind of praise that Animal Kingdom did, but it’s definitely a great step forward for David Michod as a film maker and story teller.

The Rover
Directed By – David Michôd
Written By – David Michôd

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