The Rover (AUSTRALIANS ARE BLEAK AND WEIRD)

Posted: July 14, 2014 by whipkitty in Movie Review, Movies
Tags: , , ,

the-rover-poster

In a world where I see an average of ten movie previews a week The Rover (103 minutes) was an unknown quantity. I knew it was vaguely post-apocalyptic , starred Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, and it somehow involved a train. Of course, after I watched it I realized only two of those three things were actually true. In my defense, most independent/foreign/limited release trailers end up blended together in my pop culture mixer of a brain, so two out of three is very impressive.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the theater. In fact, my expectations were so low it took me a while to realize the strength of the film. What could have become a low-rent Road Warrior knock-off ended up being an unexpectedly powerful story. While I didn’t enjoy watching it in the same way I enjoy, for example, a Harry Potter movie, it was certainly worth my time.

An “unspecified global economic collapse” is the new pandemic/nuclear scenario favored by post-apocalyptic auteurs . In this case, the American dollar is the most accepted currency, even in Australia and a cross-section of humanity ends up down under, including Norte Americanos Henry (Scoot “my first name is funny” McNairy) and Rey (Robert “stupid sparkly vampires” Pattinson). They attempt to rob some kind of military convoy with two background characters, but everything goes horribly wrong. Rey is left behind, while Henry heads for the hills. During the escape they wreck the getaway vehicle and snatch a car that belongs to a guy with very bad hair named Eric (Guy Pearce).

Eric seems incredibly depressed, despite his ability to buy gas and random supplies under what must be conditions of near universal scarcity. When the bad guys steal his car, he steals their abandoned truck and after about five minutes of casual effort drives away after them. The ensuing chase ends rather bizarrely, considering how well everyone involved gets along face-to-face. Perhaps this can be explained by chalking up every bad decision a character makes to the fact that every character is a screaming lunatic.

Eric, having survived thus far, ends up in a sort of Asiatic den of iniquity. He comes across the caravan of a traveling circus, apparently stranded near the local brothel, and arms himself. In a real gem of a scene he confronts people who make it pretty clear that they are just waiting to get shot and don’t particularly care who does the shooting. The dialogue in this section is just—weird. Of course, when he gets back to his commandeered truck he runs into Rey, who becomes his new best friend and traveling companion, and the dialogue gets even weirder.

The two of them set off to intercept Henry and reclaim Eric’s car, managing to make themselves pretty unlikeable in the process. If it reminded me of anything it was a similarly bleak, low-budget Australian film written by Nick Cave (yes, the singer) and also starring Guy Pearce called The Proposition. The minimalist dialogue and sudden, shocking violence also recalls No Country For Old Men.

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