15 June 2014 | lacqueredmouse
A truly remarkable and wonderful piece of cinema
I'll admit I don't watch a lot of Australian cinema. I'll also admit that I didn't really care a whole lot for Michôd's previous film Animal Kingdom—certainly not as much as the rest of the world seemed to. So it was with some amount of skepticism that I went to see The Rover. But I am really, truly glad that I did.
This is an astonishingly good film, built around a wonderfully nuanced and rich, but extremely sparsely specified post-apocalyptic Australian outback setting. We follow Eric (Guy Pearce), a taciturn but brutal loner, who goes on some kind of personal rampage after his car is stolen on a remote road. Along the way, he finds Rey (Robert Pattinson), who he forces to assist him.
The world-building in this film is astonishingly good. Michôd creates a very bleak environment for his very bleak characters, and hints at the disaster that left the world in this way—people only accept US currency, for example, but the reasons are left tantalisingly absent. The dusky red cinematography of the outback creates a beautiful backdrop for the sense of desolation.
Moreover, the performances throughout are superb. Pearce is dangerous but distant, creating a character who seems to have lost the same vestige of humanity as has the society in which he now lives. But I was even more blown away by Robert Pattinson's co-dependent Reynolds, whose violent actions belie his heart-rending naïveté and fragility—one scene towards the end of the film where Rey and Eric seem to open up to each other a little more around a campfire is truly affecting. I'm really pleased to see Pattinson taking on these sort of roles—he's a truly great actor, and I'm so pleased that the Twilight franchise didn't ruin him for the rest of us.
Overall, this film was a truly remarkable and wonderful piece of cinema. Even though I doubted Michôd after Animal Kingdom, this film assures me that I will continue seeing his films going forward. This was an absolute highlight for me, and I hope more broadly marks a resurgence for Australian cinema on the world stage.