A new still and tons of praise for The Rover!
All you really need to know is that The Rover is a modern Western that explodes the terms good and evil; that its desolation is brilliantly rendered by Michôd and cinematographer Natasha Braier; that Pearce and Pattinson are a blazing pair of opposites. Pattinson, free of the Twilight trap, shows real acting chops, especially in a moving final scene. In revealing two men trying to get in touch with the shreds of their shared humanity, Michôd offers a startling vision. You’ll be hooked.
While it evolves from a dystopian thriller, to a road movie, to a buddy film, The Rover never takes on the caricature of any of these genres. It doesn’t squander for the gimmick that causes the demise of humanity, saturate the long moments on the road with meaningless chatter or indulge in a sappy coming-together of two unlikely characters. Eric and Rey merely breathe each other in, because they are the only ones giving each other life.
Michôd, shooting his film in parched shades of brown and khaki, finds moments that linger with us: a living room that looks, weirdly, as if time has frozen; a scene in a car where Pattinson’s character sweetly sings along with a pop tune, finding comfort and a lost world within it.
What makes the scene indelible isn’t that casual outrage, but that Grandma, as written by writer-director David Michod and played by Jones, is a rather impressive person – a shrewd reader of people, a good talker, and someone imbued with a moral sense. Michod gives us the twisted ethics of a blighted era in a single character.
Notwithstanding an odd accent, this is the most touchingly weird performance of Pattinson’s short career. But while the tabloid-touted hunk chews the scenery like a koala binging on eucalyptus leaves, Pearce remains the stoic center of attention. When eventually we discover why he’s called the rover and why he wants his car so badly, it’s a punch to the heart.
The result was a film that left me feeling energised and enthralled like perhaps no other I have seen this year.
The cinematography is sweeping and gorgeous, muted by the drabness of the Australian outback, which becomes a living set. While I have seen no other films of Michod, if this is any example of the rest of his work I will surely be on the watch.
In a year where it appears to be an embarrassment of riches with genre material and specifically science fiction, The Rover, stands head and foot above the rest.
“The Rover” is less an allegory than a suggestion how bad things could become. It’s well made, and it’s disturbing, if not overly passion inducing.
There’s no denying this film, though. Michod’s second fiction feature (he directed the acclaimed 2010 film Animal Kingdom) will likely be held as one of the great works of dystopian cinema, and rightfully so. Ignoring the intelligence, artfulness, and energy of The Rover is simply out of the question.
For those who have already grown tired of the way most summer releases blaze through plot and character development like so many lines on the highway during a high-speed chase, allow THE ROVER to take you through its paces at something more akin to a brisk walk. It’s an exceptionally well acted work, with enough intrigue and nasty undertones to keep it interesting and suspenseful.
The Outback has never looked as desolate as it does during The Rover’s wide shots (this is a harsh landscape like 2005′s The Proposition, also starring Pearce). Likewise, the emptiness and foreboding nature of the wilderness is compounded by Antony Partos’ excellent score.
Pearce and Pattinson working together that is so compelling in The Rover. They make their way through the most unforgiving of landscapes and it truly shows that two thespians in tandem, with a fantastic script loading their weapons of talent, can produce a jaw-dropping cinematic experience that breathes life into a world that is all but lifeless.
Our The Rover review finds that Michod has now joined that short group of directors for us where the mere mention that their name is attached to something shoots that project to the top of our must-see list.
The way Michod plots his drama, weaves in societal questions as to what drives us and how we would respond to a world drowning in utter desperation, is nothing short of brilliant.
THE ROVER is both depressing and rewarding. This film is one of the more impressive indie films that i’ve seen this year, and worth the trip to the theater just to watch the chemistry and talent of its leading men.
The Rover is marked by strong performances and a striking creation of atmosphere courtesy cinematographer Natasha Braier and composer Antony Partos (who also did the score for director Michod on Animal Kingdom). The film is oppressive, which makes sense, given its themes, but what’s on the screen elicits a visceral response. Expect to be flinching and twitching in your theatre seat.
“The Rover” is extremely well-crafted, emotionally gripping, and dramatically satisfying. The result is another stunning tour de force by a talented young director.
Still, as screen performances go, the co-stars are at peak tour-de-force levels. Pearce has never been this raw and ruthless, yet he’s not cold or sociopathic. His Eric is a tragic and necessarily-viscous product of his environment, a victim who consciously struggles to suppress his soul in order to survive physically and mentally, even as it’s killing him spiritually. As he tells a man who threatens to murder him: “Whatever you think is over for me was over a long time ago.”
But the surprise is Pattinson. Despite an already successful career in both blockbusters and indies, Pattinson’s turn here stands as one of the biggest revelations to hit the screen in quite some time. By immersing himself so deeply into Rey’s fragile psyche, with physical ticks that are instinctive rather than calculated, Pattinson completely redefines how we must consider his talent moving forward. The ease of his American southern twang (he’s a Brit in real life) is so natural and convincing that, if you weren’t the wiser, you’d suspect he’d just been yanked straight out of the hills of Appalachia. After this, it’s hard to imagine Pattinson not being able to tackle anything that’s thrown at him (dramatically, anyway).
The Rover is one of the most rewarding films you will see this year. Prepare for a dark and bleak trip down a violent rabbit hole, though. Hang on; it’s a wild ride.
Pearce is stripped to his absolute bare bones as an actor. His eyes are dark and devastated. His expression is somewhere beyond sorrowful. Instead of stopping to rest or load up on supplies, his character just keeps pushing forward, an unrelenting figure forever on the edge of collapse.
Pattinson, hiding behind grimy skin and filthy teeth, has traveled far quickly from the handsome reserve of Edward Cullen in the “Twilight” films. He delivers a compelling performance, at least when you can understand him.
“The Rover” also boasts an interesting score and soundtrack, as well as found sounds popping up here and there in the brush. They help heighten the intensity of two men on a violent road to nowhere.
Guy Pearce is something of an anomaly but when he gives a performance as good as that in The Rover, viewers are in for a real treat.
Pearce, who made a splashy worldwide debut 20 years ago in “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” has always had the chameleonic ability to disappear into a role. (Think of him as foppish Edward VIII in “The King’s Speech.”) So the surprise here is Robert Pattinson, who also gets fully under the skin of a slow-witted American criminal named Rey.
It has the feel of the fascinatingly aimless late ’60s westerns of Monte Hellman. So you’ll need patience to appreciate it.
While Eric and Rey may not seem likely travelling companions, they are two men whose final possessions in a world of increasing desperation have been stolen. For Eric, it was his car. For Rey, it was his brother’s love. Michôd wisely doesn’t spend too much time defining the terms of his post-apocalyptic vision, allowing his characters and their needs to define it for him. And Pearce and Pattinson rise to the challenge, the former finding the soul of a man who can barely remember happiness—it’s the moments in which Eric starts to trust Rey that seem to startle him more than pain or violence—and the latter conveying the desperation of a man who may not know a lot but knows he can’t make it on his own. If his brother left him behind, he might as well partner with the man tracking him down.
Convincingly played by Pattinson in a role that’s as far from the “Twilight” series as he could possibly get, Rey is the polar opposite of the laser-beam Eric. Damaged, twitchy, unfocused, he is a lost soul in a pitiless world, and his evolving relationship with Eric provides an intriguing counterpoint to that man’s ferocious quest.
There is nothing noble about Eric’s mission or about the considerable violence he resorts to to get the job done, but Pearce’s willingness to give him an integrity of purpose mixes well with Michôd’s intense, controlled direction and his ability to blend unexpected, empathetic character moments with all the killing. It’s a combination that all but guarantees that “The Rover” will put you away.
Squalid, but bleakly funny at times. “You must really love that car, darling,” Eric is told by a grandmotherly woman who appears to be mad; “What is it about the car you love so much?” But who isn’t mad in the circumstances, which suggest the hypnotically hollow universe of a Beckett play. In a casual aside that’s worthy of the great Irish writer, Rey says: “Not everything has to be about something.”
It’s bold and uncompromising, but often quite beautiful, with stunning Outback photography by Natasha Braier and a minimal but haunting score by Antony Partos. The bleakness in the material will probably put-off a large chunk of the audience, but those with a little tolerance for the depressing will be rewarded by a truly unconventional piece of speculative sci-fi.
The pervasive menace might suggest that numbness has taken over for good. But if the harrowing final moments prove anything, it’s that Eric and Rey are far more complex than originally thought. Michôd’s desire to paint the fall of western capitalism in such gritty strokes makes The Rover an unflinching film. It puts the blame not on individuals but the groupings they create in the midst of chaos.
Eric is no hero. In short order, he steals and commits cold-blooded murder. Michod feints here and there with the possibility that Eric could in fact be more of a monster than the men he’s after. Some of the first words we hear are one of them shouting, “We’ve killed people!” Eric feels no such compunction, and soon has Rey—played by Pattinson with a deftly twitchy kind of gracefulness that plays neatly against Pearce’s raw red ferocity—descending to his level.
The opening to David Michod’s visionary The Rover gives only a single title card setting the scene. We’re in the outback, and it’s “ten years after the collapse.” We don’t know, and we don’t ever learn, what this collapse actually is. Of course, the horrifying element that slowly reveals itself is that gradually, things are getting worse. As Guy Pearce’s tipsy straggler listlessly drinks in an abandoned bar in the middle of the desert, the score swells and shakes, blaring like a single air-horn that gets longer each time it plays. It’s last call in the world’s final bar.
Credit the leads. Pearce, who looks more grizzled than ever, undercuts his stoic-badass routine with slivers of Leonard Shelby melancholy. And a grimed-up Pattinson gives the type of entertainingly twitchy performance that may yet rescue him from the straitjacket of his tween appeal. But then, the real star of this Down Under downer is probably the gorgeously unforgiving setting. Every cliché shines a little brighter in the glow of a setting Outback sun.
To kill time between battles, Rey tries to swap stories about their lives. Michôd has Pearce sternly shut down any talk that might distract from the silence. “Not everything has to be about something,” sighs a frustrated Pattinson, trapped lumpenly in the passenger seat of this no-detours thriller. The Rover might not be about anything at all, but the dust it stirs up sticks to you after you leave the theater.
it’s a film that greatly benefits from an unfussy, nihilistic turn by Pearce, one so devoid of vanity that you kind of wish he’d landed the lead in next year’s “Mad Max” revival. He didn’t, but “The Rover” is very much in that spirit. Pearce, in “The Rover,” is the epitome of the Man Who Has Lost Everything, including, perhaps, his name.
Pearce is fantastic as the Eastwood-like lead, as prickly as a cactus while giving off the cautious, introspective air of a stalking animal.
At least as responsible for giving “The Rover” its distinctive tone as the unnerving violence, edgy performances, parched settings and Natasha Braier’s superior cinematography (film, not digital, was the medium of choice) is Antony Partos’ extraordinary soundtrack, which, in its wild, idiosyncratic weirdness, is probably the most effectively eccentric and radical film score since Jonny Greenwood’s for “There Will Be Blood.”
The title could apply to the much-traveled antihero and/or the vehicle he uses in relentless pursuit. But I wonder whether it also has a third meaning, in a strange joke that crops up in the last few shots. Where “Animal Kingdom” offered slightly less than met the eye and ear, “The Rover” offers slightly more.
The Rover cuts a strong, bloody groove.
Like Rey, The Rover is simple without being simplistic, wandering without being directionless, and solitary without being one-note. And maybe most importantly, it’s a signal that Pattinson may yet be a star, but in an entirely different way than we first imagined.
Eric, interestingly, is called out in a similar way earlier in the film. Wandering through a grim, dark storefront, he encounters an oddly calm older woman (Gillian Jones) sitting peacefully in an oddly tidy back room. “What a thing to get worked up about in this day and age,” she says of his aggressive demands for information about his car.
But it turns out that it is worth getting worked up about, especially on this day, in this age. When Michod finally unveils why the car is so important, some viewers will no doubt find the revelation deflating, even silly. But I found it ingeniously apt. After the violence has finally, mercifully subsided, the movie ends with an elegy for peaceful domesticity. No, I take that back. “Elegy” is too prim of a word for The Rover. This is a primal scream over justice denied and civilization lost, both on a personal and global scale.