Of Mice and Men: The Apocalypse Years – ★★½
There is no time period for David Michod’s new film The Rover, it merely appears on screen that this is ten years after the economic crash in Australia. We can be assured it isn’t too far into the future mind as there isn’t a hoverboard in site. A dusty, harsh and unrelenting story of men and their rage issues entangles the film leaving it light on plot and merit.
Guy Pearce rolls up to his local for a drink only to have a gang of thieves make off with his car having crashed their truck. The truck is perfectly fine so Pearce is hot on their tails and adamant about getting his car back. When they knock him out, leaving him for dead he comes across one of their gang, Robert Pattinson, in urgent need of medical attention which Pearce is only too willing to oblige with in order to find the gang and his car.
Pearce and Pattinson fall into a formulaic relationship whereby they are wary at first but succumb to a mutual understanding. Recalling Mad Max, The Proposition and Wolf Creek we have another film to add to the canon of the wild Australian Outback where men are men and women don’t exist.
The Rover has all the hallmarks of a post-apocalypse film to add to its stereotypical view of Australia – fuel is in short supply, the law of the gun is king and quiet men have shady pasts. It’s trying to be a Cormac McCarthy novel and while visually satisfy, it doesn’t come close in depth no matter how much Pearce tries in his infrequent orations.
What saves the film is Pattinson who expertly evokes our sympathy in his dim-witted, yet good-natured character. The film is adequate at creating suspense and tension but due to obvious directing and shot-framing it becomes repetitive and predictable. Too much knee-jerk violence leaves you numbed and empty. While comparisons could be drawn to Joe from last month in its male heavy cast, where Joe excelled was in the depth of characters and pay-off with the story. In The Rover, the pay-off is weak – perhaps even laughable depending on your outlook.
Pattinson can rest assured that he has cast off the sheen of Edward Cullen and Pearce will always get work as the quiet yet menacing introspective type. We unfortunately will have to keep roving in search of an original storyline though.
Released in Ireland on 15ht August 2014