The world of David Michôd’s “The Rover” is one of the bleakest to grace the screen in a long time, but the reviews for the performances by the two leads, Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson are anything but.
Critics are largely split on how effective the movie is overall, but Pearce and Pattinson are being praised for their portrayals of two desperate men in a world gone bad.
Check out a sampling of reviews from “The Rover” below.
The time, the opening titles tell us, is “ten years after the collapse”; the setting is the lawless Australian outback. This is “Mad Max” territory, but the filmmaker isn’t concerned with spectacular special effects. The violence in his gaunt drifter, Eric (Guy Pearce), comes from within, and erupts in a moral vacuum. Bumbling hoodlums have stolen Eric’s car. Enraged by the injustice, and by the loss of an indispensable possession, Eric sets off to retrieve the car and exact vengeance on the thieves. In the course of his journey he is aided by Rey (Robert Pattinson), the brother of one of the thieves, who has been injured and left to die. — Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
Pattinson has been trying to prove he’s more than a teen sensation, and his sweat is respectable. Instead of cashing in on heartthrob roles, he’s playing Salvador Dalí, partnered with David Cronenberg for “Cosmopolis,” and will be letting Werner Herzog have his way with him in Queen of the Desert, out later this year. If his playing a mentally handicapped role here is a desperate stunt, he mostly lands it. His Rey is heavy-lidded and twitchy, forever grappling with his gun like a safety blanket, but then every so often a glint sparks in his eyes when he thinks — mistakenly — that he’s outwitted Eric. He makes Rey a person, not a cliché, and arguably more of a complex character than Pearce’s angry hard-ass. — Amy Nicholson, LA Weekly
As recycled as many of the individual images here may be — its forbidding, lifeless landscapes are populated almost entirely by bloodied, grizzled, sweaty men with guns enacting eternal violent rituals in pursuit of vengeance — Michod has nonetheless developed a very specific setting for his elemental drama. It’s a time “10 years after the collapse,” when, from the evidence, the Australian economy has gone south and locals are reduced to scavengers while Asian mining interests control the purse strings. Ruffians, many of them foreign, can’t find work and so have turned to crime; no authority is in place to keep order, and people who might once have been warm and welcoming have turned wary. Everyone seems to have, and need, a gun at hand. — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
The Final Word
There is both too much story and not enough. The contours of this desolate future are lightly sketched rather than fully explained, which is always a good choice. But that minimalism serves as an excuse for an irritating lack of narrative clarity, so that much of what happens seems arbitrary rather than haunting. And at the same time, the relationship between Eric and Rey, as it develops into something almost tender, feels as familiar and simplistic as the nihilism that surrounds them. — A.O. Scott, New York Times