Directed by David Michod and screenplay by Michod from a story by Michod and Joel Edgerton, The Rover is the story of a loner living in futuristic world following a global economic collapse as he pursues a group of thieves who had stolen his car with the help of one of the thieves’ younger brother. The film is a western of sorts as it plays into a man seeking revenge for what had happened as he take in a young man who provides some ideas for this loner who felt the world has gone against him. Starring Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy, David Field, Gillian Jones, and Susan Prior. The Rover is a gripping and evocative film from David Michod.
Set a decade after a global economic collapse similar to the Apocalypse, the film follows a loner who encounters a trio of thieves who stole his car as he goes after them with the help of the thieves’ younger brother who had been left for dead following a robbery. It’s a film that plays into a man who is driving through the Australian desert as he is just passing through as his world collapse when his car is stolen as he becomes hell-bent on getting it back as he takes this slow-witted young man with him despite being wounded and guilty by association. David Michod’s screenplay has a straightforward narrative while it also plays up into the ambiguity into why this man named Eric (Guy Pearce) wants his car back as he finds the wounded Reynolds (Robert Pattinson) to accompany him.
Yet, they journey into a world of lawlessness where American currency is worth more than Australian currency while the military is the police of sorts as everything is done with some secrecy where people hide from criminals or the military. For Eric, none of that matters as he’s already lost so much since the economic collapse as he just wants his car back while not giving a fuck who he has to kill. Even if he has to drag Reynolds into the fray though Reynolds prove to be more useful than Eric realizes as it plays into Eric’s own humanity which he seemed to have lost. Especially as Reynolds is just someone who is innocent but knows his way to get around the lawless environment to help Eric.
Michod’s direction definitely echoes aspects of the western as it is shot on various locations at the South Flinders Ranges in Australia as well as areas nearby the town of Maree. Michod plays this world where people live remotely or hide in their houses as if things are dangerous yet it begins with Eric stopping at a bar where there aren’t many people as there’s a shot of a truck tumbling following an accident with Eric on the foreground taking a sip while the truck is in the background tumbling. It plays into the lawless nature of the film where the three men steal Eric’s car as sees it from afar as he also notices the truck which he takes and goes after them in a chase but there is this air of psychology into how Eric tries to approach these men but it doesn’t go well prompting him to play into the world of lawlessness. It is in this moment where he finds the wounded Reynolds as he asks for his help but Reynolds is in need of medical care. Yet, having access to guns and health care isn’t easy as the former requires money while the latter requires secrecy as it’s something Eric has to cope with. Michod maintains some unique compositions including a lot of gorgeous wide and medium shots in not just capturing the scope of the locations but also in how unsettling it is in this post-apocalyptic setting. There are these intimate moments in Michod’s approach to the close-ups and medium shots in the way it develops Eric’s relationship with Reynolds as first it starts off with Eric treating Reynolds with indifference and only using him to get to his destination.
Yet, Reynolds is someone that isn’t treated with respect at first but his innocence in the things he talks about but also his survival instincts does make Eric care for him following a skirmish involving a few military officers whom Reynolds, his brother, and the other thieves were stealing from. It does play into something that would happen in the second as Michod doesn’t stray from the brutality of the violence as it adds to the eerie nature of the environment the characters are in. Notably as Eric has been de-sensitized by the world due to the fact that he is someone that is carrying his own demons as it does bring a lot of reason into why he wants his car back. The film’s climax is violent but it’s more about Eric helping Reynolds confront his brother as well as bring some order back to the world of lawlessness. Overall, Michod crafts a chilling yet mesmerizing film about a loner who accompanies a young man to confront a trio of thieves who stole his car.
Cinematographer Natasha Braier does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of natural lighting for many of the daytime exterior scenes including some shots in the morning and in the evening as well as the usage of low-key colorful lights for some scenes at night. Editor Peter Sciberras does excellent work with the editing as it is straightforward with some rhythmic cuts to play into some of the suspenseful moments in the film. Production designer Josephine Ford, with set decorator Jennifer Drake and art director Tuesday Stone, does amazing work with the look of the motels, houses, and places that Eric and Reynolds venture into in their dilapidated state as it adds to the dreary look of the film. Costume designer Cappi Ireland does nice work with the costumes as it is largely straightforward and casual to play into the hot area of Australia.
Hair/makeup supervisor Fiona Rees-Jones does terrific work with the look of the characters to help play into the grimy look as well as usage of mist to play to their reaction with their hot surroundings. Special effects supervisor Angelo Sahin and visual effects supervisor Dave Morley do fantastic work with the some of the special effects such as the truck tumbling scene as well as some of the violent moments in the film. Sound designer Sam Petty does superb work with the sound in capturing the atmosphere of the locations including some of the quieter moments as it adds to the film’s eerie tone. The film’s music by Antony Partos is incredible with its mixture of ambient and brooding electronic textures to play into the suspense while music supervisor Jemma Burns provides a soundtrack that adds to the film’s tone with music from Colin Stetson, Tortoise, the Ink Spots, Frances-Marie Uitti, and an offbeat track from Keri Hilson.
The casting by Kirsty McGregor is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Nash Edgerton as a soldier who confronts Eric, Samuel F. Lee as a gun-toting acrobat, Anthony Hayes as a brutal soldier, David Field and Tawanda Manyimo as two of the thieves who steal Eric’s car, Susan Prior as a reclusive doctor named Dorothy who also shelters lost dogs, Gillian Jones as an aging opium den owner known as Grandma, and Scoot McNairy in a terrific performance as Reynolds’ older brother Henry who leads the gang of thieves as he also abandons Reynolds.
Finally, there’s the duo of Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Reynolds and Eric. Pattinson brings this air of innocence as a young man wounded during a robbery and left for dead as he deals with what happened to him but is also someone that has some strong survival instincts despite his lack of social skills. Pearce has this air of chilling restraint as someone that just wants to drive through the desert only to have his car stolen as he’s a man willing to get it back by any means necessary. Pattinson and Pearce do have this amazing rapport as two men trying to reach their destination but also confront those that had wronged them as well as made them feel worthless in a lawless world.
The Rover is an incredible film from David Michod that features great performances from Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. Along with its gorgeous cinematography, eerie music score, unsettling tone, and its modern yet visceral approach to the western, the film is definitely a film that isn’t afraid to be grimy and violent while also playing into two men who feel rejected by this dark world only to stand up for some kind of principle that the world had lost. In the end, The Rover is a sensational film from David Michod.
David Michod Films: Animal Kingdom - (War Machine) – (The King (2019 film))
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