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“The Rover” – Review (SO-SO POSITIVE)

June 21, 2014

Screen shot 2014-06-21 at 2.05.29 PM

David Michôd is quite the fascinating filmmaker/screenwriter, for one, I never knew he was the scribe behind the cult ultra-dark dramedy, “Hesher”, actually makes a whole lot of sense when you look at his directed films.

The 2010 crime-thriller “Animal Kingdom”, which in my eyes features one of the BEST performances of Guy Pearce’s career, was quite the marvel for David’s debut as a feature director. His collaboration with Pearce alone sold it for me, so, to see Michôd reunite with Pearce in “The Rover”, you cannot imagine my anticipation.

While “The Rover” is indeed powerful, with tone that gives a few heavy punches to the emotional gut, I felt at times that this film was having a hard time figuring where it wanted to go. Perhaps it was pacing that held it back. By comparison, “Animal Kingdom” was a meatier film, with far more complex and impenetrable characters. “The Rover” simply shows us the extent of how far people will go when they’re pushed to their limits; I’ve seen this before, in better films and Television for that matter (“The Walking Dead”)

Set 10 years after a global economic collapse in Australia, a cold-blooded drifter (Pearce), a man with no name, if you like, roams the scorched Australian outback. One day, as this drifter stops in a bar for a drink, three criminals (Scoot McNairy, Tawanda Manyimo, & David Field) on the run, crash their ride, and steal our silent figures car to continue their getaway. The drifter is now on a mission to track down the men who stole his last remaining possession. When he crosses paths with a badly wounded member (Robert Pattinson) of the gang, he takes the vulnerable, naïve young man along as his unwitting accomplice, so he can track down his lost automobile.

To the films credit, I do appreciate its unsettling tone at times; the deranged musical composition (by Antony Partos) plays a huge part in that, the sharpened sound design will leave many hearts in the theater pounding. It seems that Michôd was going for a sort of neo-Western vibe, a man with no name, out for blood, nothing left to lose, bandits at every turn, gunfights in dismal towns and landscapes. Aesthetically the movie works very well, narratively I’m on the cusp, because the pay off, while good, did feel as strong as should’ve played out.

On the one hand though, I must say, I’m extremely impressed with Robert Pattinson. In the years since the last “Twilight” film, he has made a conscious effort to leave behind the teen-heartthrob persona, and take his work as an actor seriously. It shows in this film, he’s by far one of the best things about this film, sure Guy Pearce can play mad/crazy, but this simple-minded victim that Pattinson portrays is far more intricate than the gruffly Pearce character.

GRADE: B-

Special thanks to Gabby Levesque for attending the screening and sharing her input.

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