There’s a mystery to the desert. It’s typically one of the driest and seemingly desolate places on earth. The many creatures that are able to live there have to develop a callous, toughened acclimatization that is not meant for the weak. The desolation of the desert is just a facade because we know there is always something lurking underneath the surface, usually trying to keep cool. There is a self-sustaining, lawless ecosystem that we don’t understand, and that lack of understanding is the scarier than the deadly denizens of the desert. The Rover brings to life a dystopian, parallel reality where the natural order of the desert has become everyday life, and we are all forced to assume the roles of the animals.
Ten years ago, an cataclysmic, crippling economic collapse came like we always knew it would. The only world wide currency that retained any of its value was the American dollar. In Australian, we encounter Eric (Guy Pearce) having a drink, like we can assume he always does. The only difference is that this time, a group of men steal his car after getting theirs stuck while trying to get away from a robbery gone wrong. Eric manages to get the robber’s car free and goes after them.
The reasoning behind his rage and single-minded pursuit goes beyond the normal reaction, which makes him all the more terrifying. There is an enigmatic shroud surrounding his true motivations, but the journey promises to shed light on the situation. Rey (Robert Pattinson), who was left for dead by his brother and other robbers, will lead Eric to his car, whether Rey wants to or not.
Director David Michôd has reunited with Guy Pearce for this atmospheric Australian based story, much like their previous film together Animal Kingdom. Like a desert wind building up to the inevitable sandstorm, The Rover slowly intensifies the tension. The story gives us a collapsed society, but instead of showing us how they live, it focuses on things to live for (and a lack thereof). At times it feels too slow, but that is when the chemistry between Pearce and Pattinson keep us hooked.
In (arguably) Robert Pattinson’s best performance to date, we see his character go through a metamorphosis that can be seen in most coming of age films. Removed from his typical sex symbol role, Pattinson is left to rely on his talent and I was pleasantly surprised to see just how much he had. Pearce’s character Eric is a man of few words, which is fine because we understand him through his actions and his rugged facial expressions.
If you’re looking for a Mad Max style, rampaging killing spree, you’ll be disappointed. The Rover relies on subtle story-telling and powerful performances to bring this dog-eat-dog world to life. There is of course violence a plenty, but you have to go on the journey like everyone else and see how you come out on the other end.
RATING: ★★★★★★★(7/10 stars)
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