It’s with much anticipation that I headed to a cinema in New York to watch David Michôd‘s second feature film The Rover.
Full of pride, seeing an Australian film unfold on a movie screen in NYC was something I’d been looking forward to.
Since I’ve worked with one of the cast since the film was shot, I was in on the major plot point revealed in the film’s final scene.
I’ll never know what it is to see this film with virgin eyes, blind to the point of the story.
As it was, I found The Rover excruciatingly slow to watch.
Given my recent diet of films has been the biggest blockbusters Hollywood can dish up (Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, X-Men, Maleficent etc), I’m used to a certain amount of spoon feeding so I tried to bear this in mind and afford as much patience as possible.
Set “10 years after the collapse” ( The Rover website has a brilliant series of articles about exactly what this entails), the Australia of the future, while most certainly a dystopia, more closely resembles the Australia of the 1970’s, and as such The Rover has drawn comparisons to the 1971 “lost” classic Wake in Fright.
After the surprise success of Animal Kingdom, it is a clever move by Michod to turn his back on another crime story set in an urban landscape and instead turn to the outback for a backdrop.
Bleak, brooding, and brutal, The Rover seemed to be The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – without the Good.
Unlike 2013’s Australian film Mystery Road, there is no pace to the way events unfold here, rather a slow steady drip of violence and grimaces.
Guy Pearce as “The Man With No Name” is in great form although he doesn’t seem to do much. Growl, sneer and utter very little dialogue. It’s left to Robert Pattinson to deliver the words in this film, but they don’t offer much.
Overall it’s lacking colour and humanity, and ultimately a point.
If this is the future because of the division between rich and poor, and our unquenchable thirst to drain the planet of all her resources, what does the making of this film achieve?
As I am in the USA this month I was not able to attend any of the numerous Q & A sessions where Michod spoke about the film.
As a piece of art it is abstract and sparse, open to interpretation. If it gave a little more I would have been prepared to invest some more contemplation. Is it a metaphor for the Edgerton Brothers film careers? Joel via Scoot McNairy’s Henry went off and made it in Hollywood, while Nash is Pattinson’s Ray, left behind to suffer the consequences….
I do know the director now has the attention of cinema-goers, and the big question will be what he cooks up next.