Review by Pamela Zoslov
ays, “Not everything has to be
That pretty much sums up the
storytelling philosophy of Michôd and his co-scenarist, Joel
Edgerton. It's as empty narratively as its post-apocalyptic desert landscape. The film is set in a bleak, battered Australian outback
“ten years after the collapse,”presumably the worldwide economic kind. People
from all over the world have moved to Oz and are living in armed,
paranoid survival mode, The American dollar, surprisingly, is the
only currency they trade. (The obvious resemblance to MAD MAX, by the way, was rejected by
Michôd, who said, a little hubristically, "You put cars in
the desert in Australia and people are going to think of MAD MAX, and with all due respect to
that film... I think THE ROVER
is going to be way more chillingly authentic and menacing.")
The protagonist of this
maddeningly minimalistic film is Eric (Guy Pearce), a laconic
ex-soldier whose car is stolen by a car full of fleeing felons. Angry
Eric pursues the thieves intently, shooting and killing a lot of
people along the way, including a midget from a traveling circus.
Before stealing Eric's car, the thieves have left behind one thief's
seriously injured younger brother, Rey (TWILIGHT's
Robert Pattinson). Eric meets up with Rey, gets his injuries treated
by a woman doctor, and forces the slow-witted young man to lead him
to his brother, Henry (Scoot McNairy) and his accomplices.
On the road to the bandits'
hideout, the duo evoke Of Mice and Men,
the earnest Rey trying to converse with Eric, who scarcely responds.
Pattinson's nuanced performance as the film's lone sympathetic
character adds some verve and humanity to this parched, languid
It's hard to understand why
people write movies with so little narrative content; perhaps it's a
way of appearing “arty.” The story is so nihilistic – everyone
just kills everyone – that we can't latch onto anything
emotionally. In a lawless landscape, “it just doesn't matter
anymore,” says Eric. So is there any reason to care?
I heard John Waters say in an
interview recently that if people come out of a movie saying,
“The cinematography was wonderful!,” it wasn't a good movie. And so, Natasha Braier's cinematography is impressive, and I can't say
enough good things about Anthony Partos' post-industrial score and
Sam Petty's delightfully eclectic song tracks. It's too bad they
aren't in the service of a more satisfying film. 2 out of 4 stars.