The Rover (David Michôd, 2014) wr. Joel Edgerton, David Michôd, dp Natasha Braier; Robert Pattinson, Guy Pearce, Scoot McNairy, David Field, Anthony Hayes, Gillian Jones, Susan Prior, Richard Green; apocalyptic revenge, road; Aust release 12 June
Much was expected of Australian director David Michôd after his brilliant, unsettling debut feature, Animal Kingdom, expectations that have, for the most part, been met with his second feature. The Rover is a road movie that inevitably evokes the Mad Max films because like them it's set in the desert of an apparently ruined Australia. The new film is also an odd couple movie, with Eric an apparently decent man forming a reluctant partnership with the untrustworthy and unpredictable Rey. The film is pretty violent, and is structured around a series of suspenseful scenes that are very well handled. Only at the very end does the contrivance of the whole enterprise show through, and by then you've either embraced the film for the sheer cinematic smarts it exhibits or rejected it. Cinematography by Argentina's Natasha Braier is excellent, and among the fine actors to make major contributions are Gillian Jones, as a sinister old woman, Susan Prior as an isolated doctor, David Field as one of the car thieves, and American Scoot McNairy as Rey's vicious brother. David Stratton, At the Movies.
Sydney Film Festival update: The Rover, David Michod's starkly brutal post-apocalyptic follow-up to Animal Kingdom, has an absolutely brilliant opening (bolstered by terrific sound design and music) but turns too quickly into an ultra-violent dirge, with Robert Pattinson's unexplained southern brogue requiring subtitles but not getting them. It's like Mad Max got rid of the chase sequences and replaced them with interminable camp fire scenes filled with mumbling, throwing in the odd point blank execution just to wake up the audience. Meanwhile some good actors like Susan Prior and David Field are not on screen for nearly long enough. As for the the ending, I'll quote the woman seated behind me to her companion: "you have got to be kidding". Lynden Barber, Facebook.
With so much build-up the final showdown can't – and doesn't – live up to all expectations, for Eric, Rey or equally, for us. Of course, that's precisely the point in this story of misdirected rage and misanthropy, which tries to contemplate the cost of violent retribution at the same time it dishes it out. Fiona Williams, SBS Movies.
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