The Rover, film review: Ferocious performance from Robert Pattinson in shaggy-dog story

(15) David Michôd, 103 mins Starring: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson
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The Independent Culture

The Rover is a glorified shaggy-dog story, told in an apocalyptic style and boasting two ferociously committed performances from Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson.

Its setting is the lawless outback, 10 years after "the collapse". The world's economy is in meltdown. When thieves steal the car belonging to grizzled loner Eric (Pearce), he makes extreme efforts to get the vehicle back.

At times, as Eric and his unlikely companion Rey (Pattinson) drive across country, the film plays like Thunderbolt and Lightfoot as if scripted by Samuel Beckett. The director David Michôd, best known for Animal Kingdom, heightens both the absurdism and the nihilistic violence.

The motivations of the characters aren't always easy to work out. Given the bleakness of the settings here, there isn't much possibility for redemption for anyone. Eric makes fleeting reference to traumatic events in his private life. Rey feels betrayed by the fellow thieves who abandoned him.

Neither of the characters are especially sympathetic but Pearce and Pattinson make an intriguing double act. The former is dour in the extreme. The latter is highly strung and simple-minded. At certain points, as they show loyalty and kindness to one another, there are flickerings of decency in a film which otherwise seems pessimistic about human nature in the extreme.