The Rover is a bleak downer of an Australian film from the writer of Hesher, and it is fucking great. I guess that kind of spoils my review, but I’m sticking to it. Is it horror? Well, it’s violent. Let’s call it a violent drama that should appeal to horror fans. I put The Rover in my DVD queue after seeing a trailer for it that impressed me. I fully admit that estimating a movie’s worth based on its trailer usually leads to either disappointment or to missing out on a good movie that has a shitty trailer. But I avoid the latter by checking horror reviews/news/podcasts frequently (btw – you can follow this blog if you want to. no pressure.). As for the former, disappointment is a small price to pay when I’m treated to the occasional gem like The Rover.
The Rover concerns an unnamed man (he could be Miles Braydon Blaire for all we know so that’s what I’ll call him) played by Guy Pearce in yet another intense turn. He has the haggard look and thousand yard stare of a broken man (and a haircut that looks self-inflicted). His path is crossed by a trio of fugitives who steal his car when theirs gets stuck on the side of the road. The trio was formerly a quartet of fugitives but Rey, played by Robert Pattinson, was shot and left for dead. But he wasn’t dead! Miles Braydon takes Rey hostage in order to track down his car. Thus begins their journey through a dusty, barren rural (but not Outback) Australian landscape.
Their road trip mirrors a buddy/road movie in many ways. But it’s a buddy/road movie with ZERO humor (and no real buddy-ing). I don’t mean that as a criticism. The tone of the film is bleak, leaving no room for levity. Miles Braydon is an enigmatic man with nothing to lose. Rey is a dumb-as-shit scumbag who wrestles with and then makes a dire decision that plays out during the climax of the film. The story is peppered with jarring, intense acts of violence. We sympathize with these characters despite being left in the dark about their backstories. This vagueness works perfectly for this existential tragedy.
THE FINAL CUT: The Rover is a stark, violent film that leaves the viewer with a melancholy sense of existential dread. Pattinson and Pearce both give pitch perfect performances. You should definitely see it when you’re in the right frame of mind (ie: not feeling suicidal.)