A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
The stereotypical Australian man is someone who holds his possessions very close to him; sentimental assets, objects of worth or simply something that they can’t live without, whatever the cost. Take that away from the Australian man, and he’s going to come after you. he will hunt you down, and go to extreme lengths in doing so. We witness this exact man in “The Rover”, the follow up feature from “Animal Kingdom’s” David Michôd.
Taking place in outback Australia 10 years after a global collapse, a mysterious but stern, hardened man has his most prized possession taken away from him at the hands of a gang on the run from what appears to be a vicious gunfight.
Noticing his possession is missing and seeing the gang disappear into the distance, the man (played by Guy Pearce and who is supposedly named Eric, even though there is not one mention of his name in the film) passionately chases after them.
On his way he comes across the heavily wounded Rey (Robert Pattinson), a member of the gang and brother of the main offender. In a critical state, Eric takes him to the nearest hospital which is a fair distance away.
After Rey is treated, Eric demands he begins talking of what he knows, and from there, the pair continue on together searching for the gang who stole from Eric and allegedly left Rey behind to die.
“The Rover” was a highly anticipated film for 2014, especially given it is Australian. The trailers looked very impressive and the style that was exhibited seemed very appealing. It was thought from the promotion, the cast and the initial reception from some critics that this was going to be a revitalisation in Australian cinema.
Furthermore, for an Australian film, a 7.3/10 on iMDB is the equivalent of an 8.5-9/10. “The Rover” had a fair amount of promise to say the least, but boy did it under perform.
What was so disappointing about the film was the lack of substance in almost every aspect one could look.
Sure, Eric the protagonist didn’t require substance as his character is designed to be mysterious, un-relatable and quiet, plus his backstory is subtly revealed in sporadic moments of the film. But the supporting cast and the context of the setting could have and should have been explored much more.
The most confusing and alienating factor taken from “The Rover” however, was Eric’s motivation for his extreme actions. The extremes he goes to and the shallow nature of everything around him creates confusion and seems highly unbelievable.
Without giving any crucial plot points away, the final act of the film is sadly one of the more anti-climactic ones in recent memory as well.
“The Rover” does have it’s positives though. For one, Robert Pattinson gives a career defining performance as Rey. He is extremely convincing and impressive as the dim-witted, American accomplice of the ruthless Eric.
It’s pleasing to see the once sparkly, glistening vampire get down and dirty, taking part in a proper role and showing the world that he does in fact possess the ability to act.
Guy Pearce is also brilliant in his leading role. His emotions are passionate and the forbidding, austere nature of Eric generate immense intrigue regarding the life he has lead and his backstory.
The soundtrack/score is also a superb aspect of the film. Minimalistic, improvisational and at sometimes industrialised sounds are scattered throughout and blended together into a seldom rhythmic formation, which adds so much to the uninhabited, bland and eery atmosphere.
There is however, one extremely strange, perplexing moment that sees Pattinson’s Rey singing in a car. This seemed totally unnecessary and incredibly distracting for the tone, progression and mood the narrative was trying to achieve.
With a lot of anticipation and expectation riding on “The Rover”, it is sad to say that it in no way lived up to the hype. Under-explored, poorly developed story and characters with some outrageously exaggerated dramatic actions taken as a result of pathetic motivations made “The Rover” very disappointing and a major missed opportunity for Australian cinema. It definitely has it’s moments, some of which are excellent, yet overall, the narrative as a whole is far too shallow.