Directed by: David Michôd
Now I am not a huge fan of Australian Cinema. Walkabout is the first film I saw out of Australia and I can say I borderline hate that movie. It was tough, minimalistic, and left me dry. It didn’t really have a narrative only a story and The Rover is similar in style and substance. With Walkabout you have two characters trying to survive the wilderness of Australia after their father attempts to kill them. I feel that Australian cinema focuses more on the journey rather than the story. You run into characters that are interesting but a story that is really lacking. The Rover does suffer from this but not to the level that Walkabout does.
The Rover begins with a man, stricken with grief, stopping at the local watering hole. While he is minding his own business, three criminals come speeding down the same road only to crash their car only feet from his car. The three criminals steal Eric’s (Guy Pearce) car. What insures after this is a chase for the rest of the movie while Eric is hell-bent on revenge towards the criminals. At the next stop on the road, Eric picks up a gun and another traveller, Reynolds (Robert Pattinson) the dim-witted brother of Henry (Scoot McNairy) the main criminal. The two begin traveling together, only for the same reason, to locate Henry and Eric’s car.
The story is incredible simple and could have ended sooner than it did but that in way takes away from the movie. What you have instead is a movie solely focused on characters. Both Eric and Reynolds are given so much depth to their characters that it’s fascinating to watch them grow over the course of the movie. Pattinson gives his best performance to date as the simple-minded Reynolds. He brings a certain life to the character that it’s hard to see that he is the same actor that played Edward in Twilight. Guy Pearce is as ferocious as ever. When he is working with Australian directors I think he bring this quiet intensity that I haven’t seen much. Like his character in The Proposition, he is a quiet character that goes on with the task at hand and he brings layers to the character that aren’t necessarily written that way.
This is minimalism at it’s best. The takes are long, focusing on the characters rather than the action. You have a scene with Reynolds that takes place in a motel room. There is a knock on the door and after seeing the military earlier he believes that they are knocking on the door. He takes a shot, killing a girl instead. The military responds by opening fire into the room. All the while the camera focuses on Reynolds instead of the action unfolding. He sits there, fearing for his life, as bullets are flying past him. This all takes place to show how the character is reacting to the situation. This is a character study and the way that Michôd portrays it makes you feel sorry for the character by showing that this isn’t a side to him. On their journey the character begin to connect and in the end the final scene shows just how much they did connect.
The major problem for me is the score. I like the score but it was so powerful and intrusive that it did take away from the scenes at hand. It always felt out-of-place to me and didn’t add much to them. Outside of that I liked a lot about this movie and think that focusing on the characters instead of the plot so much was the wisest decision to make. Reynolds makes a comment half way through stating “It doesn’t always have to be about something” and I think this line explains the movie the best and it shows just how the movie is meant to be. It’s strictly about character and the scenes don’t always have to mean something in a big way just to showcase characters living in a dire situation.
I highly recommend this to film fans, like myself, more so that I would to someone looking for an entertaining movie. It is by far one of the best movies of the year.