7:30 PM, 24th July, 2014
The Rover is director Michôd’s follow up to the highly acclaimed, AFI-sweeping Animal Kingdom from 2010, so expectations were naturally high. Luckily it doesn’t disappoint, though it is certainly a very different film as Michôd switches his focus from a crime family to a road trip across a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Eric (Pearce) and Rey (Pattinson) are two very different men thrown together by circumstance – they are both in pursuit of the same thing in a desolate, lawless future. Eric is a quiet, grizzled character struggling to control the pent-up rage within him, rage perhaps being the only remnant of his former humanity. Rey is a mentally-challenged, babbling innocent trying to find sense in the world – his fragile mental state can perhaps be seen as the embodiment of the turmoil of society in which the two men find themselves.
As with any road movie, The Rover is a film about the journey, not the destination, as these two characters bond and search for understanding and purpose in the hopeless, barren country. Pearce is exceptional in a performance dominated by silence and gesture, a role which can’t help but draw comparisons to Ryan Gosling’s protagonist in Drive. Pattinson also impresses, perhaps finally leaving the ghost of Edward Cullen behind (do vampires leave ghosts?) and proving he deserves a chance to shine, not sparkle.
The Rover is not a film for everybody – while there is some action it is far from the focus. This is a film much closer to Drive than it is to Mad Max. But if you enjoy great characters, wonderful acting and a film which doesn’t spoonfeed a story or tell you how to think then you will come out a very happy filmgoer.