It’s been ten years since a global economic collapse has sent the world into social unrest where no laws prevail, no justice exists and it’s every man for himself in the barren and scorched Australian outback. This is the setting in which we find Eric (Guy Pearce), a cold blooded and hardened individual who would go to the ends of the earth to retrieve the only possession he has left in the world – his car.
After his vehicle is stolen by three thieves, Eric embarks on a crusade to pursue the trio through desolate Australian towns, finding an unlikely companion in Ray (Robert Pattinson), who has been left stranded and injured by the same gang. Eric manipulates the vulnerable American into leading him right to the group’s hideout.
The Rover is a dark and gritty film – powerful, tense and, at times, extremely unnerving. The two leads are superb in their roles. Guy Pearce excels as the cold-blooded killer, Eric, and delivers a powerhouse performance. While his dialogue is menacing, his mere presence sends a shiver down the spine – a brooding hulk of a man with dead eyes that really haunt the viewer. His counterpart, Robert Pattinson, also turns in a fantastic performance, bringing a certain innocence to proceedings – something which juxtaposes nicely with the chaotic world around him.
One of the film’s greatest successes is its soundtrack. The Rover is accompanied by an ominous score, composed by Antony Partos – with Sam Petty joining him as sound designer – which succeeds in creating a prolonged sense of unease. Jarring, dissonant, plucked strings are juxtaposed with haunting keyboard and syncopated percussion which provide a large part of the soundtrack throughout the film.
The unnerving score contrasts starkly with the songs from various genres and eras which also feature throughout – each helping to set the mood, creating a discord between the various aspects of the soundtrack. Not since The Shining has the music of a film caused such a feeling of unease, verging on nausea.
The Rover is an exceptional film but it is not without its flaws. It loses its way at times, leaving many questions unanswered. Perhaps this is a conscious decision on the part of director David Michôd, not everything needs to be explained explicitly to an audience afterall, but there are nonetheless a few glaring holes that desperately need to be filled.
Dialogue, at times, seems muffled and indistinct with key lines being overlooked. Despite his otherwise astounding performance as the gritty Australian, it can be difficult to make out exactly what Guy Pearce is saying.
Gritty, tense and unnerving (but in the best possible way) The Rover is compelling viewing which will not fail to entertain.
[Image: The Rover]