Maybe you’ve had your fill of post-apocalyptic road films. Snap out of it. The Rover is the work of Aussie writer-director David Michôd, whose 2010 debut feature, Animal Kingdom, is reason enough to follow him anywhere.
Set a decade hence, The Rover shows us a landscape where an economic cataclysm has reduced everything to a desert. Eric, played by the mesmerizing Guy Pearce, would be happy to drink his life away in a shitty shell of a bar. But three criminals – an American (Scoot McNairy), a white Aussie (David Field) and a black New Zealander (Tawanda Manyimo) – have wrecked their truck and stolen his crappy car. Eric wants his vehicle back. Why? You’ll find out. You’ll also find out why Eric, giving chase in the wrecked truck, stops to pick up Rey (Robert Pattinson), the wounded, mentally challenged brother of the American.
All you really need to know is that The Rover is a modern Western that explodes the terms good and evil; that its desolation is brilliantly rendered by Michôd and cinematographer Natasha Braier; that Pearce and Pattinson are a blazing pair of opposites. Pattinson, free of the Twilight trap, shows real acting chops, especially in a moving final scene. In revealing two men trying to get in touch with the shreds of their shared humanity, Michôd offers a startling vision. You’ll be hooked.