Set in Australia 10 years after the collapse of society, “The Rover” is a mesmerizing film that will have audiences dumbfounded by uneasy thoughts of humanity and our doomed future.
Director and co-writer David Michod (“Animal Kingdom”) creates a script that leaves chills with its minimal dialogue in each scene. There’s little given to the story itself and no explanation of the fall of society or the stories behind the characters. The film focuses on Guy Pearce’s Eric, who is willing to risk it all to retrieve his car, which is his last possession. With a decaying world around him, the suspense of how much value this car has to Eric keeps the audience in a state of agog until its very reveal.
Eric silently witnesses the deteriorating world around him with the high-strung angst. In his pursuit to attain what’s his, Eric meets and forces Rey (Robert Pattinson) to take him to his brother. Rey’s brother was one of the three men who stole Eric’s car and was forced to desert Rey, wounded by a soldier and left to die.
Rey is a mentally challenged and earnestly trusting character who progressively surprises with savvy decisions and intelligent skills that mysteriously unravel a rather brilliant persona. What may surprise some is Pattinson’s ability to naturally immerse himself deep under the skin of his character, from his speaking skills to body movements. This is definitely a performance that will set him apart from his franchise past.
The scene where it seems Rey first makes up his mind to trust Eric is in the medical house where he’s awakened from a needed surgery sought after by Eric. The scene focuses silently on the recuperating Rey standing weakly as he’s curiously staring at a sleeping Eric who’s just saved his life. In a surrounding world of a cruel survival-of-the-fittest mentality, the two meet and ultimately take care of each other throughout, as if holding onto the last bit of hope for humanity.
Michod focuses not on telling a story of the popular postapocalyptic themes trending in films today but on highlighting human interaction. Ultimately, that is what is most eerie about future doom in an every-man-for-himself kind of world. The world of “The Rover” is one that doesn’t seem too far away because there is no complex technology or other future-themed aspects. All that is left is a world of humans scarcely surviving.
The disclosure of why Eric is so desperately in need to retrieve his car in the end leaves such a deep-seated analysis of who he is and once was, as a person in a structured society. The film isn’t an average look into a degenerating future –– but it’s a look into what humanity may become through a selfish route. The story Michod tells isn’t a comment on a deteriorating world due to industrialism; it’s a film analyzing human characteristics in a dire situation –– without the elaborate explosions or flying cars.
What remain with audiences are the vivid images of human brutality, scorching and dry deserts and the impressive survival of two men forming a kind of father-and-son bond to get to what matters to them most. For Eric it’s his car. For Rey it’s the love of a brother who abandoned him. Ultimately both find what they wanted but through an agonizing odyssey. A journey made up of disturbingly beautiful chords, breathtaking cinematography and phenomenal performances, “The Rover” is definitely the film to watch this summer.
Contact Melanie Jimenez at [email protected].