Pearce is fiercely impressive here as a man who gave up on the human race even before the latest round of calamities, and if there are occasional glimpses of the kinder, gentler man he might once have been, we are more frequently privy to his savage survival instincts. But it’s Pattinson who turns out to be the film’s greatest surprise, sporting a convincing Southern accent and bringing an understated dignity to a role that might easily have been milked for cheap sentimental effects. With his slurry drawl and wide-eyed, lap-dog stare, Rey initially suggests a latter-day Lennie Small, but he isn’t so much developmentally disabled as socially regressed — an overprotected mama’s boy suddenly cast to the wolves — and Pattinson never forces or overdoes anything, building up an empathy for the character that’s entirely earned. He becomes an oasis of humanity in this stark, forsaken land.
As the two men scour the countryside looking for Henry and his cohorts, Eric messes with Rey’s head, insisting that his brother left him to die and otherwise playing on the vulnerabilities of a sensitive but mentally-challenged hick who almost could have stepped from the pages of a William Faulkner novel. His stubble, dirty yellow teeth and injuries muting his physical beauty, Pattinson delivers a performance that, despite the character’s own limitations, becomes more interesting as the film moves along, suggesting that the young actor might indeed be capable of offbeat character work. But always commanding attention at the film’s center is Pearce, who, under a taciturn demeanor, gives Eric all the cold-hearted remorselessness of a classic Western or film noir anti-hero who refuses to die before exacting vengeance for an unpardonable crime. Why he so intently wants his car back he never says; it’s just where he draws the line, where the outside world went one step too far and sent him over the edge. Michod eventually provides one significant emotional explanation for Eric’s hollow heart, much in the way that Sergio Leone would use one late-revealed incident to define his antagonists’ villainy.
The script twists and turns as it brings Pearce together with Robert Pattinson's poor, ignorant, incompetent young robber. Pearce had actually managed to give chase to the gang in their own truck, which turns out to be perfectly drive-able: it is plausible that the robbers would abandon their vehicle as casually as they abandoned Rey, although why they don't simply demand it back once they realise it's undamaged isn't satisfactorily explained. On his way to Rey, and later, Pearce's character makes a tour of all the freaky, scary figures out there in the wasteland: people in ruined shacks trying to sell stuff, and people who have become feral in a weird Diane Arbus-world of their own.
Little White Lies:
Performances are pitched just right between hard-bitten and mournful. Guy Pierce, as all know, has stoically grizzled down to a fine art, while Pattinson manages his new non-heart-throb ground (the make-up team have wrought merry hell on his teeth) with admirable pathos. His limp, hick accent, facial tics and staccato delivery play second, third, fourth and fifth fiddle to a whole lot of heart, and one that Eric cannot help but fall for. If there’s one thing this violent metaphysical drama emphasises it’s that heart is, when all else fails, a man’s best friend.
Pearce's scowling appearance and relentless ability to force others to meet his demands—particularly in a sudden burst of violence when he seeks out a firearm—marks his strongest role since "Animal Kingdom," while Pattinson finally moves beyond wooden mannerisms to give his awkward character a pathetic, creepy demeanor. Leaving both the origin stories for both men largely up for interpretation, however, Michod (who co-wrote the story with regular collaborator Joel Edgerton) fails to make their plight engaging. Like its tattered setting, "The Rover" is scattered with intriguing ideas never successfully fleshed out: a woman at one outpost who keeps her dogs in cages to save them from scavengers and a motel shootout that manifests out of nowhere create the anticipation of peril lurking in every corner. They hint at the prospects of a well-honed thriller, and it's easy enough to get swept in the intensity of these moments.
Pearce is reliably riveting as the totally stonefaced Man With No Name Except Maybe Eric, and Michod exploits his charisma for all its worth in the many extended takes of his inscrutable, unreadable mien, while Pattinson, who we were initially worried might be too tic-laden to fully convince, actually turns in a performance that manages to be more affecting than affected. It’s certainly the best we’ve seen him deliver, despite the rather standard-issue-halfwit yokel accent and the actor commits to it wholly. The contrast between these men, Pattinson as twitchy as Pearce is impassive is marked and its in the space between the two, punctuated by bursts of gunfire, that the film really lives.
Pearce is the center of the film and a forceful presence as usual, but Pattinson puts in a formidable and truly transformative performance all his own. Rey is an unattractive character in an unattractive world, with rotten teeth, a bad haircut, and an off-putting, twitchy demeanor, but there's no sense that Pattinson did any of this in a superficial effort to ugly himself up and distance himself from his heartthrob image. If anything, the role should stand as proof to any doubters that with the right director and the freedom to break free of his own public persona, Pattinson has real ability and magnetism on screen.
Robert Pattinson's Rey seems like he's barely able to function as a person. He mumbles, he seems like a bit of a dummy, and while he seems capable of violence, he feels like a scared kid who's constantly terrified of everyone else, unsure why people do what they do, unable to communicate on those rare occasions that the synapses all actually do fire. He's very good in the role, and while I'm not crazy about the film as a whole, if Pattinson keeps making choices like this and his ongoing collaboration with David Cronenberg, there may actually be a future for him where people are genuinely shocked to learn that he starred in the "Twilight" movies.
When we first see Pattinson, he is covered in dust (as is just everything else in this film) and clutching a gun wound to his gut. His hair has been chopped down to an unglamorous crew cut, and his teeth are those of a lifelong tobacco-spitter. He speaks in a high-pitched Southern drawl, and he’s as twitchy as Pearce is ice-cold and deliberate. In one endearing sequence, Pattinson even busts out a falsetto to sing along to the chorus of Keri Hilson’s “Pretty Girl Rock.”
And yet, many of the qualities that made Pattinson and international heartthrob remain: the red lips, the expressive brow, the lean physique and ivory skin. Unlike Edward Cullen of Twilight, however, this Pattinson doesn’t brood. Brooding is Pearce’s job in this film, and he takes the responsibility very seriously.
But the film’s weak link is Pattinson, not because it’s a bad performance, rather it is a familiar one, a mumbling hick who seems to be channeling the mannerisms of Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade, but who doesn’t quite belong in this imaginative universe (despite exposition of how people from the entire world, including the US, have ended up in this Australia).
As anyone who’s seen Animal Kingdom will know, the squeamish need not apply: there are shocks, but not in a gimmicky way. This is about communicating the horrors of a desperate, barren world – something we’ve seen before, of course, but Michôd gives it his own spin. Characters are well-drawn, despite long swathes without dialogue – Pearce is as strong as he’s ever been and Pattinson shows more range than many might expect.
While the film and its experience is fresh in my mind, the more I begin to think about it and process it even as I begin writing about it, the more I realize how much Michôd has hidden in the silence, in the quietness and dialogue-free moments. In turn, this makes every last word spoken that much more important. Pearce, similar to Ryan Gosling in Drive, carefully chooses every word, every twitch, every muscle in his body to deliver a performance that speaks volumes while actually saying very little. Even Robert Pattinson, giving one of his best fidgety, aloof performances to date, has so much more to say between every word he speaks.
Several members of the press have advanced the notion that The Rover finally proves Pattinson's acting chops, though I think he already acquitted himself admirably two years ago when he starred in David Cronenberg's Cannes premiere Cosmopolis. What they really mean is that The Rover lets Pattinson be butch for once, waving around a gun and caking his face with blood and dirt in a bid to prove his manliness in the wake of Twilight.
Though thematically similar to Mad Max, another Australian dystopian roadmovie, The Rover is an interesting take on a future dystopia with compelling performances by Pearce and Pattinson, with the latter succeeding in getting rid of his Twilight-image.
While there’s no doubt Michod was striving for something primal and mythical in "The Rover," there is a sense the film is searching for its meaning as it goes along, which ultimately leaves the viewer clueless. The tone varies form a violent morality play to an absurdist poem, with people reduced to disposable objects (an early, unexpected killing of a dwarf drew both laughs and shrieks of horror from the audience, and I’m still not sure which reaction Michôd desired). There is a huge amount of talent on display in "The Rover", and the opening ten minutes is as captivating as anything you’re likely to see at the movies this year. In it, Michôd presents pieces of his narrative puzzle in a series of near-surrealist vignettes that we’re excited to see come together.
Former teen heartthrob and Twilight star Pattinson delivers potentially his best performance yet, convincing as the twitchy Rey and evoking empathy in his tortured struggle between family loyalty and resentment at being left for dead.
Most impressively of all, the director draws a remarkably against-type performance from his Twilight star. Pattinson pulls off nervous twitching, shoddy posture and general writhing to great effect; his character's a classic fool and he plays it so.
Pattinson’s Rey has an accent that sounds more Arkansas than Aussie, no reason given, but delivers a seriously good performance that will help move him past his vampire trifles. He’s well-paired with the reliable Pearce, who has played desperate men before, but never one of such contained fury.
Up against Pearce, Pattinson steps up his game and acquits himself admirably. He plays tic-laden Rey from the American South, complete with hillbilly accent, with wide-eyed, dim-witted naivety.
As Pattinson continues to do his utmost to shy away from his heartthrob status, it’s a huge departure from anything he’s done before and he gives it his all in the best performance of his career so far.
Like most films set in the future, Michod’s The Rover is a damning indictment of our society and a warning of the price we might pay for our behaviour. Yet there is nothing here we haven’t seen before. It has much in common with films such as The Road, but adds little to it. Guy Pearce excels in a difficult role and Robert Pattinson is believable and entertaining as his partner on this oft-beaten track through a dystopia of our making.
- joeutichi: The Rover: Pearce and Pattinson impress in David Michod's post-apocalypse. Not as much power as Animal Kingdom, but great nonetheless.
- joeutichi: Robert Pattinson has real talent, often overlooked. Him singing "don't hate my cos I'm beautiful" pretty apt. #Cannes2014
- firstshowing: The Rover - Subversive, gritty, brutal, questionable. Touches of first Mad Max. A very quiet, but loud film. Bearded Guy Pearce is badass.
- HitFixGregory: The Rover is tough stuff. Biggest departure 4 Robert Pattinson to date. Movie has impressive moments but too precious 4 material. #Cannes
- lindsaylmiller: Just left #TheRover screening. My love for Guy Pearce knows no bounds but I also was surprised by Pattinson. Remarkable film. #Cannes2014
- ZeitchikLAT: So great to see Rob Pattinson actually act. Should have done a gritty genre piece long ago. #TheRover #Cannes2014
- nigelmfs: THE ROVER: bleak and beautiful. Pattinson's best performance by a long shot. Pearce is excellent as always.
- IMDbKeith: Best film @Cannes2014 so far, by far, is #TheRover, post-apocalyptic Western where God is a gun. 9.4/10
- IMDbKeith: #RobertPattinson proves he has the skills to continue to act for as long as he wants & w/whom he wants, thanks to David Michod's #TheRover
- KetchumAtMovies: The Rover = Masterpiece. #Cannes2014
- peterhowellfilm: THE ROVER: Clint & Mel comparisons for dystopic Aussie road pic, but Steinbeck loneliness resonates. Guy Pearce & Robert Pattinson, top form
- _Winter_wind: Damn! #RobertPattinson and #GuyPearce are brutal, so good in "The Rover" a very riotous film and very very good!
- _Winter_wind: Seriously, I think at time the whole thing reached unbelievable limits,but damn #RobertPattinson knows how to deliver in a drama
- _Winter_wind: The first A in this festival, at least for me. "The Rover" A
- Nico_Gilli: Excellent The Rover. #Cannes2014
- BeccaFrucht: Just left #TheRover...w/o my humanity. Guy Pearce is a force & Robert Pattinson is unrecognizable. Strong acting, tough to watch. #Cannes
- filmfest_ca: ROVER-desert dry, deliberately paced post-Western revenge film. Pearce sizzles, Robert Pattinson's Joaquin-like role best yet #Cannes2014
- ACEFilmEditors: THE ROVER with Robert Pattinson just premiered @FdC_officiel. A gritty post-apocalyptic western. Great film! #Cannes2014 #ACE #Pattinson
- AntoNiQSI: The Rover: Michôd's version of a post-apocalyptic environment is dirty and crepuscular. A very strong movie despite its size. #Cannes2014
- TheB2C: #TheRover #RobertPattinson à la sauce Gilbert Grape. #Cannes2014
- jake_coyle: Michod's 'The Rover': Raw, dirty dystopia in near-future Aussie Outback. Not as substantial as 'Animal Kingdom,' but hypnotic. #Cannes2014
- jake_coyle: Guy Pearce is great as a man of few words, but Pattinson never been better. #TheRover #Cannes2014