Review: “The Rover” Is All About The Journey

Somewhere in between a bleak Cormac McCarthy novel and “Mad Max” is David Michod’s quasi-apocalyptic character study “The Rover” which gives a glimpse at what the world would be like without a real form of justice, when hope is lost and all that remains is the will to survive.

The story takes places 10 years after the fall of the global economy where the few that are left are forced to fend for the selves in a fashion that has remnants of the Old West. Eric (Guy Pearce) is a rough and tumble ex-soldier who is tracking three men who stole his sole possession (a dusty Nissan Sentra) and relentlessly hunts them down to take back what he is owed. It is not until he encounters a slack-jawed fella named Rey (Robert Pattinson) that he finds a bit of leverage that becomes more than he bargained for.

Michod, is becoming the Australian film industry’s golden boy after writing/directing the crime epic “Animal Kingdom” to universal critical acclaim. His latest is just as chilling, with a static pace that is far too appropriate for the desolate landscape of the Outback. In his previous film he showed the urban landscape of Australia which is rarely shown on film, but with “The Rover” he depicts the cruel, barren lands effect on the few people that are left through odd moments that border on camp, like a temperamental little person who throws rocks at dogs and sells guns on the black market.

What really is a teeters the line is Pattinson’s performance which renders his sex-appeal useless in this situation. His strange hillbilly dialect is neither Texan, or Appalachian he finds a manner of speaking all of his own to convey a performance that shows promise with his acting capabilities. Maybe it is Michod’s direction that could have coerced such a “sore thumb” performance, but one has to think Pattinson put his big boy acting pants on for this one.

His relationship with Pearce starts of as a lion/lamb dynamic, but slowly the supposed moral weight of Eric gets lighter and lighter as he makes questionable decisions to protect his new found resource. The duo’s central relationship is never fully developed, but with a movie such as this the performances bolster the lack of follow through. It wouldn’t be appropriate for this story to put a bookend on the relationship because without that emotional pay-off the brief moments that connected Eric and Rey linger as the closing credits roll.

“The Rover” isn’t interested in finding the consequences of moral actions, but the truths that lie within the human condition. What causes these men to be pushed to the limits, is it the chaos and lack of order, or have they simply always been this way. The answer to this question doesn’t matter, frankly it’s all about the journey.

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