There’s often an inclination for Australian filmmakers and actors to make the move to Hollywood following a triumphant endeavour on home soil. We’ve seen it recently with Justin Kurzel, director of Snowtown, moving to the States to make Macbeth, and then on to Assassins Creed. However David Michôd, who brought us the exceptional family drama Animals Kingdom, has remained in his homeland for his sophomore feature The Rover – set in the vast, barren Australian outback.
Taking place 10 years into the future, following a global economic collapse, we meet Eric (Guy Pearce), a brooding, introverted man who discovers his one and only possession – his car – has been stolen by a gang of thieves. So Eric then kidnaps Rey (Robert Pattinson), the younger brother to one of the perpetrators, setting them both down a brutal path, led by a man who will go to any lengths to win back his motor.
Similarly to Animal Kingdom, The Rover is a disquieting, punishing watch, with a persistent morbidity that, at times, can become overwhelming in its unrelenting approach. However where this film differs, is that the narrative is not nearly as strong or compelling, which you need to balance the feature out. Thankfully, two stunning lead performances ensure this picture remains watchable – particularly the case for Pattinson, who arguably turns in a career best performance to date.
Though an unsatisfying picture for Michôd, which just feels like it’s lacking some soul, the cinematography is breathtaking at times; with a dry, desolate and sun-baked landscape really highlighting the sense of isolation, and in turn creating an atmosphere which is truly unforgettable.