REVIEW: The Rover

25 06 2014

The RoverUnlike many “apocalyptic” movies of our era, David Michod’s “The Rover” does not weigh itself down in giving the audience details of the calamity that befell civilization.  We get a few vague hints along the way, sure, but Michod lets us know all we need to know the characters populating the frame.  An opening close-up of Guy Pearce’s Eric, sitting motionless with anguish while flies land sporadically on his face, tells us far more than fake stock footage ever could.

For once, it’s the characters, not the catastrophe, that drive the action.  Without highly specific circumstances explaining their actions, “The Rover” assumes the feel of a tone poem.  It mulls over the trials of the human spirit amidst a desolate landscape as well as the need for connection in isolating times with its sweltering cinematography and pared-down screenplay.

Michod’s script, co-written with Joel Edgerton, follows Eric as he hunts down his stolen car in the unwelcoming Australian desert.  We don’t know why he wants the car back until the very end of “The Rover,” and a part of me almost wishes his motivation wasn’t realed.  Since Eric doesn’t seem to place any extreme importance on the vehicle, the quest takes on an existential dimension that yields far more insights into Eric’s character.

The Rover

And Pearce, normally known for more explosive performances in films like “Lawless” and “Memento,” is all the more effective keeping his rage largely pent up.  Whatever Eric has gone through in the collapse, we can see the layers of cynicism and despair it has built up around his heart.  How exactly they move him to action, however, is left less apparent by Pearce.  Eric feels like he could erupt at any moment, and when you combine that with Michod’s tense direction, “The Rover” provides the most grippingly volatile watch since “The Hurt Locker.”

While the uncertainty of Eric’s journey propels the story forward, it’s Robert Pattinson’s Rey who makes every moment memorable on the way to the destination.  Clad in an oversized T-shirt and baggy jeans the entire film, Pattinson effortlessly conveys how uneasy Rey feels in his own skin.  He resists typical tropes of playing half-witted characters, instead providing a deeply humane portrait of a 12-year-old mind trapped in a 28-year-old body.

In a film largely about ideas and large themes, Pattinson provides a crucial emotional entry to “The Rover.”  He manages to draw out remarkable empathy, both in us and eventually even somewhat in Eric.  His minuscule facial motions illuminate a world of internal torment that expresses itself in the simple desire for acceptance and respect.  This tender work fulfills all the promise Robert Pattinson showed in “Cosmopolis” and heralds the arrival of a truly great actor whose talents might one day overpower all the tabloid headlines.  A-3halfstars

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3 03 2015
Robert Pattinson Worldwide

[…] Marshall And The Movies […]

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