– by David Morgan-Brown
With the amount of post-apocalyptic films that are in season at the moment, Australia seems like a golden place to have such a setting, its desolate, dry landscapes and harsh temperatures emphasising the gloom and doom of the end of the world. That is the case here with The Rover, Michôd’s follow-up to Animal Kingdom. Not much is explained about this setting, other than it’s been 10 years after “the collapse”. The people still alive (who are few and far between) have naturally developed trust issues with each other. Eric (Guy Pearce) has his car stolen by a group of men and he becomes adamant to get it back, along with the (compulsory) help from one of the men’s brothers (Robert Pattinson) who they mistakenly left for dead. This mild story progresses with slow and intense fury, and after the clever denouement is revealed, turns out to be an unoptimistic examination at where the morals of humanity may end up in such dire circumstances.
At the empty, dusty heart of the film is Guy Pearce’s performance, which may be one of the best of his career — he completely sells the weariness, loneliness, and lack of trust that is so rooted in this post-apocalyptic environment. Next to him is Robert Pattinson who gives an interesting, yet flawed performance. His demeanour connects us with something more culturally relevant, but good luck trying to understand half of what he says, Pattinson covers up a bad American accent by making it unintelligible. The supporting cast is also a mix, with some of them appearing threatening and really add to the general feeling of uneasiness in the film’s environment, yet some of the other acting is not as strong. The dialogue doesn’t help, with some of it sounding basic and unsubtle enough for first draft material. However, dialogue isn’t too important in this movie. It’s mostly about silences, and the many gun-shots that punctuate them (and what incredible sound effects they have. If you don’t flinch once throughout this film, you have the reflexes of a god).
Right from the beginning until the end, The Rover is a tense, taut, and impactful thriller with no room for sentimentality, romantic sub-plots, or generally anything spirit-elevating. It’s an apocalypse film that doesn’t indulge in the tried and tired conventions, but utilises this now popular sub-genre as a grim reminder of how humanity falls when society does so first. This is for those in the mood for a moody post-apocalypse film that feels fresh not because of how much different it is to its contemporaries, but because of how well done it is.