Quik Flix Hit

The Rover (2014)
Rated R


Porchlight Films

In some dystopian future, 10 years after the “collapse,” a man (Guy Pearce) sits in his car on a deserted Australian highway. As flies buzz around him and he stares into nothing as the sun beats down on his shaggy, haggard form, we notice the shot is held for quite a while. So long, in fact, we begin to wonder if the reel is stuck. The soundtrack punctuates the silence with atonal chords that seem louder than usual.

The BloghouseThese things—the lingering shot, the abrasive sound—establish not simply tone, but theme. You’re going to be subjected to both for the rest of the film.

Pearce eventually gets out of the car and walks across dusty, sun-scorched road and into some kind of makeshift store. Its proprietors are silent, worn men and boys who can hardly be bothered by  Pearce’s presence.

While he’s in the place, a carful of panicked thieves wreck nearby and steal Pearce’s car as a substitute. The rest of the film concerns Pearce’s pursuit of the thieves.

This is a strange, uncomfortable film that repeatedly uproots expectations. The more we learn about Pearce the less we like him; it’s probably for the best that he’s hardly defined. We know he’s handy with a gun and he doesn’t blink at shocking violence. He just wants his car back.

Aside from deliberately held shots and grating ambient score, David Michôd’s film builds a creepy undertone by presenting women as scarce, while shirtless boys hover in the corners of many scenes.

Pearce is united with the abandoned brother (Robert Pattinson of the Twilight series) of one of the thieves. He’s a “half wit” who can’t decide if he wants to reunite with his brother or kill him.

Pearce brings his dependable intensity to the proceedings. He’s so hard externally we don’t know what to make of his character when he sheds tears. Pattinson, nearly unrecognizable and intriguing with his mumbling accent and vacant stare,  with this film and Cosmopolis (2013) firmly establishes capabilities beyond playing a brooding, glistening vampire.

The film is bleak and humorless, offering a convincing pull into its atmosphere. There’s a powerful scene of Pearce detailing the fate of his wife. And another in which a young girl becomes a causal victim of violence.

But you’ll wonder how, despite so much violence, death and a short runtime that it still feels like you’ve lived hours drifting in this dusty, dirty, sweaty, sticky off-beat film. I wanted to take a shower afterward.





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