The Rover – cold, consistent but empty

Help me out here, what was the name of that very violent 2014 movie with only 15 minutes of the actual violence?

I’m sure you will agree that making a violent film requires making a lot of tough decisions. Many film directors through history spoke about their resolutions and solutions (sometimes wrong sometimes spot on) for either scenes, casting or screenplay, that either ruined the final story or made it better. Well, “The Rover”, new David Michod’s drama shows some of both: oversights vs. perfection.

Premiered back in May at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival in “out of competition”, “The Rover” is a post-apocalyptic drama that follows closely the lives of Eric (brilliantly portrayed by Guy Pearce ) and Rey (Robert Pattinson in another serious role) in Australia. After a group of people, related to Rey, stole his car, from a very static and inferior persona, Eric converts into a determined man, whose only interest is his stolen car.

The movie’s start, with amazing straight-forward cinematography, concrete close-ups, already defined the future of Pearce’s character. A mish-mash of his calamity from “Memento” and rage from “L.A. Confidential”, the edgy and non-acoustical Pearce, very diplomatically, changes his emotions through the entire film, depending on who’s across the table. The brilliant example is one particular conversation with an old woman somewhere in the beginning, which directly opens the door of who he is, and will be. However, is he some emotional, disrupted guy who is just looking for his car, or…? Well, that’s yours to answer after seeing the film.

As far As Robert Pattinson, I am sure many will agree that this particular character landed on his feet. From the first moment they meet, you can see that the relationship will be unmistakeable. And I have to admit, it is due to Pattinson’s performance as well (apparently I was right two years ago when I said, after seeing “Cosmopolis”, that you’re done and ready “when Cronenberg gets you in his hands”). Even though cruel and fierce at times, Pattinson’s childish face, lost in the eyes of the desert, illustrates his vulnerability, which puts their relationship on a higher level.

However, even though their performances were more than just all right, the overall project was pale and empty. The beginning and the ending uncovered a lot of unfounded decisions and misjudgments by the director,David Michod. All those wonderful games of statics and patiences from the beginning, didn’t find the ground as the plot unravels. For example, the suspense behind his character (carefully in line with Pattinson’s, though it’s nature is quite opposite) loses its trace somewhere in the middle and never returns, or explained.

David Michod, an Australian film director, became known for directing 2010 “Animal Kingdom”, nominated and awarded in few world film festival, including an Oscar nomination for Jacki Weaver for Best Supporting Actress. He began his career in 2006 with shorts and documentaries, and switch to features in 2010 with “Animal Kingdom”.

“The Rover” proved to be a good but not excellent idea for Michod. It required a lot more thinking and a better execution. We were left with a lot of open issues, demanded to be resolved. The question remains whether he wanted to portray what defines chaos per se, or psychological changes we may go through if something similar happens to us.

Expect good performances, great cinematography and even better soundtrack (when someone decides to include Tortoise’s music in a feature, I have to recommend it). Don’t expect either dystopia nor noir. Expect the expected.



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