Review: ‘The Rover’ 9.7.14

Writer/Director David Michod’s sophomore follow up to his electrifying debut – 2010’s “Animal Kingdom”, which burst on the scene with the type of energy that Quentin Tarantino did with 1992’s “Reservoir Dogs”. Except whereas Tarantino was sensationalizing the gangster lifestyle, Michod takes an opposite approach, showing them as beaten down souls riddled with paranoia who have backed themselves up into a corner where there’s no way out. There was nothing attractive or alluring about the lifestyle of the gangsters depicted in “Animal Kingdom”. But much like Tarantino did, Michod essentially came out of nowhere, and made one of the better (if not the best) modern day films about crime families. Which he in turn caught the eye of many on the film making landscape as one of the most promising new talents to watch (hence why he got a coveted slot at this year’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival lineup of 18).

Michod once again finds himself continuing to explore themes that he did in “Animal Kingdom”. Themes such as the nature of violence, where it derives from, and the moral complexities that lay behind it. The loose synopsis is that we are shown the aftermath of what appears to be a crime committed that went awry, and we follow the 3 men who get away. During a shoot out they crash, and hot wire a car owned by Guy Pearce’s troubled, elusive, and undeniably ruthless character.   They just messed with the wrong guy. Pearce follows them for no reason simply other than to get his car back. While in the process, he discovers one of the men who didn’t get away and was left behind for dead, played magnificently here by Robert Pattinson (anybody who still think’s this guy is just a pretty face has to look no further than here to prove themselves wrong). The Pearce character then takes the Pattinson character under his wing, and goes to seek revenge against those that left him behind.

This an incredibly dark, gritty film where the violence is unrestrained and very explosive. One of the film’s greatest strengths, and a nod to Michod as a film maker, is in its ability to show such levels of extreme violence but only at very intermittent times throughout the film. And unlike Tarantino, who’s violence can across as sensationalized and somewhat exciting, Michod is on the opposite plane. It’s what I’d call restrained yet very serious violence. When a gun shot or a round goes off you can almost feel it. I also thoroughly enjoyed the film’s score, which had an almost off-kilter sound, similar to recent scores from Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood that he’s done with Paul Thomas Anderson’s films since 2007’s “There Will Be Blood”. I thought its obtuse use of sounds lended itself well to the story of characters who are on the brink of insanity. It’s also incredibly well shot, using the Australian outback as almost a second character, as all of this violence abrupts amongst a quiet rural topography. Again, another effective tool use by Michod. This turned out to be much like “Animal Kingdom” another brilliant film. And proved to us once again why writer/director David Michod is a force to be reckoned with. I’ve already cleared a spot for it on my list of honorable mentions (#’s 10-20) which depending on its resonant staying power, could even stand a chance at cracking my top 10 at year’s end.

Grade: B+

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4 thoughts on “Review: ‘The Rover’ 9.7.14

  1. TheRover.. 79/C+, Not quite on the same tier as Animal Kingdom. With that said, I thought Guy Pearce was pretty badass, liked him a lot in this.
    Movie got off to a great start & then meandered into the pace of a Western. I felt like some details could have been filled in & then I probably would have liked it a little bit more.

    I haven’t seen near the # of movies that you have this year, so my playing field is a lot smaller.. but here’s my list so far for 2014 one thru ten, #1 being my favorite:
    Boyhood 94; Life Itself 90; Whitey: USA vs Bulger 87; Kid Cannabis 86; Cold in July 85; Finding Vivian Maier 83; Noah 83; Enemy 83; Cheap Thrills 80; TheRover 79

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice. I’m glad you found it to at least be worthwhile. I thought its pacing was a strong point. Given that the topography of the film almost acted as a second character. So in that respect you’re “Western” analogy makes perfect sense.

      My top 10 so far are:
      1) Life Itself (I usually put docs separately but it was just too good)
      2) Under The Skin
      3) Boyhood
      4) Stranger By The Lake
      5) Enemy
      6) A Most Wanted Man
      7) Child’s Pose
      8 & 9 Tie) Cold in July & The Rover
      10) Bastards

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  2. Agree with the B+ rating, Michod is a force to be reckoned with behind the lens is right. Also completely agree that Pattinson can act he’s phenomenal in this. The score by Antony Partos was nothing short of brilliant in my opinion, dark and eery right up my alley. Whole soundtrack comes out Oct 7th, I believe after researching it a bit definitely going to listen to it front to back. The violence is perfectly dicpicting for a man that has nothing to live for with no apparant conscience until he meets Pattinson. The scene where he blows the dwarfs head off was a a wow moment. Love Pearch is Australian films (ala “The Proposition”). Definitely will be checking out what Michod will be doing next.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice I’m glad you shared similar sentiments on the film and agreed with me on Pattinson. I’m calling it right now after maybe another year or two this guy is going to be in the same playing field as like a Jake Gyllenhaal. I read that on the set of David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis” Juliette Binoche approached him during the making of and whispered to him something like “You’re obviously a very gifted young actor. Keep working with directors whom you admire and don’t be concerned with money”. Well, apparently the guy’s taken that feedback to heart. His last 2 films he’s worked on have been with David Cronenberg and David Michod. His next “4” films (listen to this) are with Cronenberg (again) in “Maps to the Stars”, Werner Herzog’s “Queen of the Desert”, Olivier Assayas’ “Idol Eye”, and Anton Corbijn’s “Life”. Now I wouldn’t even dare put him in the same breath as someone like DiCaprio. But he certainly is picking projects and working with directors in the same approach that DiCaprio started to do post-“Titanic”. Which in many ways is what Pattinson seems to be doing post-“Twilight”.

      And yeah I thought the score was great. I’m glad you gave me additonal information about who it was by and when the release date of it is. I will definitely be checking that one out.

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