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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    End of the world is just the begining for some

    	Porchlight Films

    Porchlight Films

    Movies that take place after the world has ended and society has crumbled have been a mainstay in cinema for a long time. “The Rover,” despite some missteps in plot and characterization, is a solid entry due to the performance of its two leads, Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson.

    A group of three men have stolen Eric’s (Pearce) car. Now, to have your car stolen in the modern age would be a big enough deal. However, in the wasteland that is Australia 10 years after the collapse of the Western economy, he has lost his only worldly possession, and he’s hell-bent on getting it back. He’s a man of purpose, using relatively few words. His gaunt face and piercing eyes suggest that he’s seen some things, removing him from the anarchic environment around him. Pearce infuses the character with a presence and determination that makes him a near force of nature.

    Director David Michôd has crafted the form of the film to match and give rise to the content. While most films that play in a cinema can’t seem to edit quick enough (case-in-point, see this weekend’s latest entry in the “Transformers” series), Michôd embraces the long takes. One of the opening shots is simply a close-up of Pearce’s creased face, not reacting to the flies that land on him.

    The stillness of the barren landscapes roll by in long swaths of shots and is suddenly punctuated by explosive bursts of violence. The people are haggard and desperate, and man’s best friends, dogs, seem to be the last vestiges of innocence.

    While on the hunt for his car, Eric finds a shot-up Reynolds (Rey for short, played by Robert Pattinson), whose brother, Henry (Scoot McNairy), just so happens to be one of the three people that stole his car. Rey knows where his brother’s headed and Eric takes him as prisoner, more or less, as they travel the desert to wherever Henry and his crew have taken Eric’s car.

    Rey is a little slow, creating a volatile dynamic between him and the short-fused Eric. Rey is peaceful by nature and his encounters with Eric slowly begin to change that nature. Whether Rey rubs off on Eric is a point of ambiguity.

    Hopefully, by this point in time, people have slowly but surely realized that Pattinson is much more as an actor than the brooding glitter-vampire of “Twilight.” His performances in 2011’s “Water for Elephants” and 2012’s “Cosmopolis” were strong in their own rights, and Pattinson’s turn as Rey is his most accomplished yet. Donning a Southern accent and verbal hiccups, Pattinson nearly always succeeds in making Rey believable and sympathetic.

    The only time he falters is when he’s sitting alone in his car at night, singing Keri Hilson’s “Pretty Girl Rock.” Yes, American pop star Keri Hilson. I don’t care what the intent of the scene is, you can’t have a mentally-challenged man sing “Don’t hate me cause I’m beautiful, now do the pretty girl rock” in falsetto, alone in his car, at night, in post-apocalyptic Australia and not have it come off as bizarre beyond the realms of good taste.

    Though Pattinson’s performance is stellar, Rey’s characterization is off at times. There are some events along the pair’s journey that seem clunky. During a night’s stay in a motel, Rey makes the transition from relative innocence to gun-wielding killer in an abrupt flash. Another set piece has Eric randomly arrested, seemingly solely for the intent of having Pearce deliver some ethereal, allegoric, heavy-handed monologue on crime and punishment.

    “The Rover” is a stark film with its characters and landscapes: a serious yet enjoyable and potentially rewarding experience in this summer season.
    Grade: B-

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