After a global economic meltdown, it seems as if the entire planet has fallen into a primal state in a post-apocolyptic type of existence. The world of The Rover has more in common with the 2009 film The Road than it does the more mainstream environment of films such as Mad Max. Guy Pierce plays Eric, who as the title suggests, is a rover. At the beginning of the film, we see that his life is composed of driving his car and drinking wherever alcohol can be found. It isn’t until his car is stolen from a group of bandits that Eric begins to show any kind of emotion. He has a great deal of love for, what seems to be, the only thing left in his life, his car. Then he finds that the thieves left one of their own guys, Rey, thinking him dead. Upon realizing that Rey is actually the brother of one of the thieves, Eric practically kidnaps him, forcing him to help find his brother.
The film is spectacularly bleak. I mentioned the film, The Road, earlier between the two, The Rover definitely gives that film a run for it’s money in terms of the brutal and draining atmosphere. In fact, a better comparison would be to Michael Haneke’s 2003 Time of the Wolf, which follows a family in France, it seems that most of the world has fallen into chaos , without really knowing why. Like Time of the Wolf, both films do side with someone. Eric, the rover, but it still shows the events and realities of the fallen world with complete objectivity, which is why I feel The Rover has a much more draining atmosphere than The Road, which did had a moral compass, making it easier to “enjoy”.
On a performance level, it is no surprise that Guy Pearce puts on an incredibly raw show. It is the type of performance where for most of the film, you are simply looking at his face and can feel that he really is a broken man. The suprise is Robert Pattinson, whose career is actually gaining some credibility since he starred in Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis. Pattinson’s work as Eric, who we get the feeling is on the slow side of things, is one of the most draining things about the film. This is mainly because he actually has a sense of hope which is obvious to see is completely pointless.
The ending of The Rover feels abrupt and uncompromisingly blunt. When viewing it, I knew that I liked it and enjoyed how much time the filmmakers took to create this startling atmosphere, but it is the final minute of the film that makes this my favorite of the year, at least so far. It is the moment when you see why Eric has really been willing to do all the things he has done.