Take a Drink: when Guy Pierce repeats himself
Take a Drink: for shots of cars driving through wastelands
Take a Drink: for every weird tic Robert Pattinson displays
Drink a Shot: for the body-count
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
Ten years after “The Collapse”, rural Australia is a wasteland full of murderers and thieves preying upon the weak. A handful of mining companies keep the country from total disintegration. Basic things like food, gasoline, and electricity are rare except for a handful of locations. Towns and cities are war zones, with the military struggling to hold onto any semblance of law and order. At a desolate roadside bar, a stranger’s car is stolen by three panicking bandits. This stranger is Eric (Guy Pearce), and you do not steal his car…
The Rover is a strange brew of a film. It seems as though director David Michod and screenwriter Joel Edgerton were trying to capture the darkness and foreboding of the Mad Max series within a more dramatic and believable near-future context. In this sense, The Rover is stunningly successful. Despondency and deep feelings of loss permeate every frame of celluloid, culminating in a simple but powerful final scene that summarizes these themes in the most poignant way.
Guy Pearce delivers one of his most eccentric performances. The character Eric is quiet and reserved, but only so far as to mask a whirlwind of anger underneath. When pressed he can explode into a rage, often without warning or explanation. Indeed, he has become maddened by the years which have passed. He is driven only by a kind of single-minded determination, overcoming all reason. This is the behavior which leads him into the blind mission of re-claiming his stolen car, even in spite of having no obvious practical purpose.
Actor Robert Pattinson plays Reynolds, a young American Southerner who finds himself left for dead by his brother and other bandits who steal Eric’s car. When Eric learns this, he takes Reynolds along and forces him to guide him to the hideout. Reynolds doesn’t seem right in the head, and probably was born with a birth defect, but Pattinson manages to convey this beaten and broken character very believably, avoiding most of the clichés/stereotypes of such a character which Hollywood often imposes. Depictions of intellectual disability in cinema often verge closely on a minstrel show.
The screenplay is one of the film’s strangest elements. Anytime a character asks Eric what his name is, or about his past, or any personal questions, he responds with a demand, or by repeating his prior question. Conversation is sparse, and those who are conversational usually aren’t long for the world.
Some of the film’s moments made me question the director’s intentions. I found myself laughing at things which should not have been humorous. Often characters make decisions that don’t seem in-line with their experience/training (the Army for instance is useless, often failing to take even the slightest safety precautions). Perhaps this is meant to comment on how society is continuing to fragment, but it seemed a tentative stab at that kind of commentary at best.
While the film is extremely well scripted and acted, there isn’t much here that hasn’t already been done before. If you’re looking for something to satiate your need for a post apocalyptic drama/thriller, this will satiate. But do not expect anything innovative or particularly long-lasting.
Looking for Cormac McCarthyesque storytelling, but can’t wait until Blood Meridian gets adapted to the screen? This solidly entertaining entry into the genre should help pad out the time.