The Rover (4 stars)

The Rover

David Michôd's follow-up to Animal Kingdom teams Guy Pearce with Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson shakes off the Twilight glitter and gets grotty in writer-director David Michôd’s stripped-back, post societal collapse drama. Though not quite as gut-wrenching as his impressive debut Animal Kingdom, Michôd's second film stands out due to its striking cinematography, storming performances, and mysterious and suspenseful ambience.

The film follows lone wolf Eric (Guy Pearce) as he takes to the road to hunt down a group of bloodied-up thieves who have stolen his car. Throughout its entirety The Rover poses the question: what would drive a man to such violent lengths?

A slow, measured and meticulous chase across a desolate landscape plays out, with Michôd giving little away as to the whys of the economic downfall. He instead focuses on the intense Eric, who is guarding an unspeakable secret, and his relationship with the brother of one of the thieves, Rey (Pattinson), who he picks up along the way.

Eric's determination to find this gang (including Rey's brother Henry, played by Scoot McNairy) leaves a devastating trail of destruction. The Rover gives us a glimpse of a bleak future where one super power rules the world; medical assistance is scant, prostitution is rife, guns do the talking and American currency is the preferred method of payment in an Australian dystopia. The military presence baffles even the soldiers who openly admit the futility of their tasks.

Even with all the misery Michôd can’t resist injecting some humour, which works well as a counterpoint to teasingly lighten the mood. For instance Pattinson singing along to Keri Hilson's ‘Pretty Girl Rock' is an enjoyably anomalous moment.

The camera ponderously takes in these dusty physiques, drawing out the characters' desperation. The final deed in this pared down neo western makes for a strongly symbolic, resonant moment in an otherwise unapologetically brutal film which never glorifies its violence, instead choosing to let its impact linger on in your conscience.

General release from Fri 15 Aug.

THE ROVER - Official Full Trailer HD

The Rover

  • 4 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 1h 43min
  • 15
  • Directed by: David Michôd
  • Written by: Joel Edgerton, David Michôd
  • Cast: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy
  • UK release: 15 August 2014

In the Australian outback, after the collapse of the global economy, lone wolf Eric (Pearce) hunts the thieves who stole his car, picking up the brother of one of them (Pattinson) along the way. Bleak, striking and unapologetically brutal, it features powerful performances and the occasional moment of welcome humour.