Score: 8 out of 10
There are all kinds of different people in the world with all kinds different tastes, so naturally, there are all kinds of different movies to accommodate us all. There are films for people who like to laugh, cry, scream, and all points in between, but the new Australian film The Rover is something that’s a little more rare. It’s the type of movie made for people who like to feel bad about themselves. This is an unapologetically bleak tale with plenty of long, boring, dry scenes that will make you question your faith in humanity, and maybe even make you leave the theatre with a big frown on your face.
The Rover takes place ten years after some sort of global catastrophe has turned Australia, and presumably the entire western world, into the economic equivalent of a third world country. Things haven’t completely gone to hell, and there’s still some semblance of institutionalized law and order, but for the most part, people live like they did in the days of the American wild west, or modern day Afghanistan. The story focuses on Eric, the strong, silent, bearded outlaw type played unrecognizably by Guy Pearce. I knew almost nothing about this film going in (this is the best way to see a movie) and it actually took me a few minutes to realize it was him. Eventually Pearce crosses paths with a younger criminal played by Twilight pretty boy Robert Pattinson, who manages to give a much better performance than some of his Razzie-worthy earlier roles. The two of them team up, and after plenty of moping around and staring at the desert, the bodies begin to stack up.
Because The Rover was made down under and mildly post-apocalyptic, most people are going to compare it to Mad Max, but the film it reminds me of the most is Once Upon a Time in the West with a little bit of Deliverance mixed in. This is a present day version of a Leone western. Don’t expect things to unfold quickly, and don’t expect them to cut away when the bullets finally start to fly. Some people hate this kind of tedious storytelling, but there are those of us who can’t get enough of it. Head shots have more impact when they come at the end of a long, dialogue-free sequence where the camera slowly zooms in on something far off in the distance. You will get to sit through plenty of close ups of Guy Pearce’s dirty face, and you’ll have plenty of time to study every wrinkle. Why this isn’t getting an IMAX release is beyond me.
The Rover is obviously a movie that’s not for everyone. You are either going to love it or hate it, and that’s fine. I saw it with Vic and Marissa and neither of them were impressed, but a jaded, cynical person like myself will love everything about it. Even if you don’t agree with the film’s message or the way the filmmakers decided to convey it, you can’t deny that there’s impressive artistry in the way it was executed. They did a good job of making the movie they wanted to make. Whether or not they should have made it is up to you.
-Review written by Blake Siefken, follow me on Twitter!