The Rover is set in a future version of Western Australia, ten years after the global economic collapse. It follows the story of Eric (Guy Pearce), a violent survivor in this desolate country, after his car is stolen by a trio of wounded thugs returning from a recent, unsuccessful heist. Eric stumbles across a young, simple minded foreigner named Rey (Robert Pattinson) who also happens to be the brother of one of the car thefts. Rey is Eric's only hope at taking back what is his.
I went into this film not knowing really anything. I am only able to attend 4, possibly 5 films at this year's Sydney Film Festival and this was the first of the lot. I hardly knew a thing about it aside from a few pictures I'd seen on the SFF website and so this film really surprised me. Not only is it the best Australian film that's been made in a very long time, but it's also one of the best, if not the best film to be released in 2014 as of yet.
Robert Pattinson steals the show with his groundbreaking performance, Guy Pearce now trailing too far behind. Robert Pattinson's not too bad an actor, it's just the material that's bringing his credibility down such as the Twilight Saga. The Rover will literally change everybody's perspective on him. Pattinson gives one of the best male performances of the year and it's certainly his best performance to date. While Guy Pearce has done better, eg. Memento, The Rover still manages to slot in as one of his finest films. The chemistry between the two leads is both tension filled and exciting, allowing the time to slip by as we're engrossed in this fictional look at the relentless situations occurring on screen.
The violence isn't frequent, making it come as a grotesque shock. The Rover isn't a film that glorifies the negativity around violence, nor does it glorify it as being positive. The film, while consistently grim, features only a few scenes of actual action. This action is both gory, disturbing and quite a shock. It never lingers on a close up with the intention of getting a reaction, but it does show enough to cause us to jump up from our seats. However, these scenes are filmed with enough beauty to make us sit right back down again.
The cinematography successfully catches the blandness of this version of Australia. Australia is depicted as a barren landscape with a near always sense of loneliness, which in reality it can be. The cinematographer captured this empty beauty with a variety of sensational angles and camera movements. They depict Australia's future as what it once was, a tough, relentless 19th century gold mine where the foreigners come to roast. This is all depicted through the absolutely mind blowing cinematography.
Australian director, David Michôd directs his second feature with a unique look on the world. Michôd proves once again that he's a man to keep an eye one as he returns to his home country with a dark and somewhat comedic look at life. His direction is glorious, with a screenplay to match. He takes a story that he co-created with fellow Aussie, Joel Edgerton and twists it into a fast paced and violent story that success on every level.
The film creates an intriguing mystery about what the actual premise of the film is. For nearly the entire runtime of the film we have little to no idea about who these characters really are or why they're doing what they're doing, but we can't help feel something towards them. We have no idea about how the world came to this or why Eric is so determined to reclaim his car, but we're hooked. There wasn't a single moment in the entire film where I wasn't leaning over the edge of my seat in anticipation for what happens next.
To sum up, The Rover is a triumphant return of David Michôd with a fantastic screenplay, brilliant direction, successful cinematography, shocking and gruesome violence and some of the best performances of the year.