Friday, January 23, 2015

3 Short Paragraphs: The Rover

2014, David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) -- download

Back in the days when we rented videos in big boxes, we were watching Mad Max, the original one, the one where Mel Gibson' character was still a cop, the apocalypse setting was still pretty hazy. The one thing for sure was that there was an energy crisis and society was falling apart. In The Rover, there is an economic crisis and again, society is falling apart.  And since the both are set in Australia, in the rural outback where life is already spartan, the comparisons must be made. But these are very two, if both very violent, different movies. But again, the apocalypse, the collapse is pretty hazy.

Based on a story by Joel Edgerton (yeah that Joel Edgerton) this movie centers on Eric (Guy Pearce), a man who wants his car back. A handful of thugs running from a botched job steal his car. He goes after it and nobody gets in his way. Eric doesn't look like the rest in this hillbilly sans hills land, nor typical violent anti-hero with his dress shirt and shorts and ... sandals? Guy Pearce is perfect, dialed down in fury & fatigue and scary as hell. But he softens slightly as he picks up Rey, the challenged younger brother of one of the thugs, who was left for dead. Rey knows where they will go, with Eric's car, so he is forced to come along.

Eric makes a choice when he is forced into the chase. He kills someone without mercy, without thought. In this enigmatic action we brand him a killer. And he is very good at killing and continues to do so. Its chilling, sometimes hard to swallow. This is the guy we are supposed to root for? Not really. In a monotonous way, as the two drive across the flat flat dusty roads of rural Australia, we learn miniscule notes about this man -- he is trained in shooting, he likes dogs, he has lost hope. Conversely Rey, who never stops talking, is chipper and engaged, and goes from captive to leader, taking the two to a final meeting with Eric's car. I will not spoil the ending, but, for me, it all made sense in one final scene, one of understanding and acceptance and loss.