"The only thing that means anything right now is that I'm here and he's not."
David Michod followed up his critically acclaimed Australian film, Animal Kingdom, with this post-Apocalyptic western starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. It is a very slow paced film with very little dialogue and several monotonous scenes involving close ups of characters staring into the desertlike wasteland. As I was watching The Rover, I couldn't help but recall the stunning cinematography and the atmosphere of The Road. This film has many similarities with it considering it also deals with a post apocalyptic world where humanity seems lost. The few social encounters that take place between the characters show us how indifferent these people are towards each other in this bleak and harsh world portrayed by Michod. There is no mention as to what happened other than that there was a collapse ten years ago. That collapse hasn't affected the landscape as much as it has affected people's inner lives. There seems to be a lack of purpose in every character's life and there is no room for laughter or hope. It's not the world that has gotten darker, but the people who are simply trying to survive in it. We've seen this sort of bleak world portrayed in many other films before, and the monotony can turn many audiences off. The young girls who are drawn to this film for Robert Pattinson will be disappointed considering the dirt filled desert has taken its toll on him and the rest of the characters. No one looks good in The Rover, there is no reason to, they are all simply trying to survive and move on in this desolate land. The tone and mood of the film is very dark and harsh which will also turn many people off. This isn't a film for everyone, but the drama does manage to keep you in suspense.
Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson are the sole reason why I was able to stick with this depressive and lonely world painted by Michod (with the assistance of Joel Edgerton who wrote the story in which the film is based on). Pearce gives a solid performance as this tough loner who will stop at nothing to find the men who have stolen his car, even if it means getting killed in the process. Along the way he encounters Rey (Robert Pattinson), who is the brother of one of the criminals who have stolen his car. Apparently Rey was left for dead after a shootout that took place right before the criminals decided to escape in the wrong vehicle. The two continue the search together. Once Pearce and Pattinson are on screen together the film picks up and breaks the monotony from the opening minutes. Pattinson is the stand out here playing this dimwitted character who doesn't seem to have a chance of surviving in this world on his own. He sells his southern accent very well and even delivers some much needed comedic relief once in a while. He is almost unrecognizable in this film and I believe it is probably his best performance to date. The violence in this film is also shocking at times as it hits you pretty hard and doesn't romanticize it at all as some Hollywood films tend to do. The gunshots are loud and quick and probably say much more about The Rover than any of the characters do. I wasn't a fan of the score of this film which was a bit repetitive and wasn't necessary in my opinion considering the tone was rather monotonous on its own. Despite its slow pacing, The Rover managed to sustain the tension up to the very end.