A man with nothing left to lose goes across the outback in search of his stolen car.
The Rover is the second feature film from David Michod, the acclaimed writer/director of 2010’s Animal Kingdom. But if you’re expecting another modern day drama about family, you’re in for a surprise.
The film is set in Australia 10 years after The Collapse which essentially ended life as we know it. Survivors scrabble around in the endless dirt and dust, scavenging what they can. Our lead is Guy Pearce who chases a gang of crooks who steal motor.
Most of the flick is about Pearce getting stuck with a member of the group who was left behind – a dim-witted criminal played by Robert Pattinson. They blunder their way in the wake of their quarry as an unusual relationship starts to grow.
The Rover is a film that’s not big on exposition, even about something as major as what caused the world to essentially end. We know next to nothing about these characters beyond their goal, and we’re rarely even given much insight into their motivations.
Pattison’s Rey gets some kind of development, first painted as an imbecile before it becomes clearer just how he’s survived in this wasteland. But Pearce is stoic to the point of near total silence, and mean spirited to no real avail.
It seems like Michod’s main intention with the film was to create something incredibly grim. The characters are all cruel in their way and the situations they find themselves in give them plenty of opportunity to show off their cruelty. A lot of people die here, rarely for a good reason but it often feels like its just happening for sheer shock value.
By the end, I had so little invested in these characters that I wasn’t much interested in their final outcome and the actual closing scene itself is pretty disappointing as far as motivations go.
Atmospheric and Pearce and Pattinson give committed performances but the film itself never feels like much more than a mean spirited tale of begrudging survival.