Text flashes up before the first frames of the film: “10 years after the collapse.” A shot of Guy Pearce, playing a nameless man, sitting in his car. Flies buzz around his face, occasionally land, and buzz off again. He doesn’t even flinch. Eventually he exits the car and heads to a pseudo-convenience store for presumably something to drink. Another truck full of three men races down the road and crashes (depicted in an excellent shot of Pearce sitting at the bar calmly, Asian music softly playing in the background, as the car flips through screen and dust flies). The three men get out of the lodged truck and steal Pearce’s blue car and take off.
The Rover plays out like a bleak and revisionist western and very much evokes writer Cormac McCarthy throughout. It is monotonous and paced accordingly. Brief flashes of violence are thrown into the desolate and deprave landscape. Pearce’s roamer meets up with Rey, a mentally challenged straggler, played by Robert Pattinson. He overcooks the role a bit, trying a bit too hard, ticking a bit too much, but Rey and Eric make for one of the most compelling pairings of the year.
Many wanderers in the film turn to drugs, bounty hunting, and murder. The film is stripped back to the depravity of the post-apocalyptic world it depicts. The percussive, and altogether weird, musical score drones along behind the two travel buddies dogging along together. The Rover digs beneath the skin. There are numerous whiffs of nihilism throughout this savage world. No society. And that’s where director Michod’s stripped back, peeled away look into the bleeding and dirty nature of humanity really begins to show.