ⓘ The Rover (2014 film)

The Rover (2014 film)

ⓘ The Rover (2014 film)

The Rover is a 2014 Australian dystopian drama film written and directed by David Michod and based on a story by Michod and Joel Edgerton. It is a contemporary western taking place in the Australian outback, ten years after a global economic collapse. The film stars Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, and features Scoot McNairy, David Field, Anthony Hayes, Gillian Jones, and Susan Prior. It premiered out of competition in the Midnight Screenings section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival on 18 May 2014.

The film screened at the 2014 Sydney Film Festival on 7 June 2014, followed by the theatrical release of film in Australia on 12 June 2014. It had a limited release on 13 June 2014 in New York City and Los Angeles before expanding wide on 20 June 2014 in the United States.

The film earned five nominations from AACTA Awards: Best Direction, Best Lead Actor for Guy Pearce, Best Supporting Actor for Robert Pattinson, Best Production Design and Best Original Music Score and included two wins: Best Supporting Actress for Susan Prior and Best Sound.


1. Plot

Ten years after a global economic collapse that caused worldwide turmoil, the Australian outback is a lawless wasteland, crime and poverty are common and small military units patrol the outback attempting to maintain what little law and order is left. After a robbery gone wrong, Archie, Caleb and Henry flee, leaving behind Henrys injured brother Reynolds. While driving away, Archie mocks Reynolds and Henry attacks him, causing Caleb to crash the truck in which they were riding. When they cannot manoeuvre the truck out of debris, they abandon it, and Archie steals the car belonging to mysterious loner Eric. Eric manages to free the truck and follows them. After a brief chase, Archie stops and Eric confronts them. When Eric tries to attack Archie, Henry knocks him unconscious with a shotgun.

Eric wakes up and drives the truck into town, where he wanders into several establishments, asking if they have seen the men. He goes to an opium den, where he finds a dwarf and two Chinese acrobats from a traveling circus in the backroom. Eric follows the dwarf to his trailer, where he offers Eric a gun for $300. Eric doesnt have $300, so he abruptly shoots the dwarf in the head and leaves with a gun. After another confrontation with the opium dens owner, he walks back to his truck and finds Reynolds, who asks why he is in Henrys car. Eric asks Reynolds where Henry is, but Reynolds faints.

After seeking help from a shopkeeper, Eric takes Reynolds to a doctor, who performs surgery on him. The doctor cares for abandoned dogs, which seems to interest Eric. The next day, Eric sees two vehicles approaching in the distance, senses threat, and takes the doctors rifle. The occupants of the vehicles turn out to be the traveling circus members seeking revenge for Erics murder of the dwarf. They kill the doctors companion without warning when he comes out to investigate. Eric kills the acrobats before leaving with Reynolds.

Eric and Reynolds stay at a motel in an almost-abandoned town. While Eric is away from the room, Rey loads a revolver, then sees an Army vehicle driving down the street. He takes cover behind a bed and hears someone attempting to enter the room from outside. He shoots through the door and is shocked to find he has killed the daughter of the motels owner before being shot at by a soldier. Eric comes to the rescue, killing the soldier and driving Reynolds and himself away.

While camping near an abandoned mine, Eric is arrested by a soldier. At a small Army base nearby, he learns he is being transported to Sydney. Eric tells the soldier that after finding his wife with another man, he killed them both; he is angry that the authorities seemed not to notice or care. The soldier ignores him. Reynolds breaks into the area, kills the two soldiers outside, then the soldier who was processing Eric. Eric and Reynolds escape.

They arrive at the town where Henry and the gang are hiding. They find Erics car outside a house and break in. Eric holds Archie and Caleb at gunpoint, while Reynolds goes to confront Henry. Eventually both hold each other at gunpoint, with Henry not understanding why his brother wants to kill him and at the same time Reynolds accusing his brother of letting him die. Reynolds becomes emotionally overloaded and shoots the wall by accident, which causes Henry to instinctively shoot him in the neck. Eric hears the gunshot and kills Archie and Caleb, before walking into Henrys room and finding Reynolds corpse. He shoots a devastated Henry in the chest and then burns the bodies. Later, Eric pulls to the side of the road in his car. It is revealed that he was obsessed with finding the car because his dogs corpse was in the trunk. Eric prepares to bury the dog in the desert.


2. Cast

  • Scoot McNairy as Henry, brother of Reynolds and a member of the criminal group who stole Erics car
  • Guy Pearce as Eric, a violent and bitter former Australian soldier who has lost his farm and his family. Michod said that "I wanted the character to be a guy who had seen that world collapse, remembered a time when things were different and was carrying around a jaded resentment that was bubbling in a really murderous and dangerous way."
  • Anthony Hayes as Sgt. Rickofferson
  • Tawanda Manyimo as Caleb, another member of group who stole Erics car
  • Gillian Jones as Grandma, owner of an opium den
  • Susan Prior as Dorothy Peeples
  • David Field as Archie, another member of the group who stole Erics car
  • Jamie Fallon as Colin
  • Samuel F. Lee as Chinese acrobat
  • Nash Edgerton as Town soldier
  • Robert Pattinson as Reynolds, a simple and naive southern American youngster. Rey is described by Pattinson as "a dependent who has been protected by people his entire life, but he has also burdened them, and he thinks that he can’t really live as an independent person. He’s a little slow, and very, very needy, and he feels like he needs people to look after him all the time."

3.1. Production Development

David Michod wrote the screenplay for the film, based on a story he conceived with Joel Edgerton, about the near-future, in Australia a decade after the collapse of the western economy where people from all over the world come to work in the mines. The setting and plot of the film drew comparisons with Mad Max. Clarifying those comparisons, Michod said that, "You put cars in the desert in Australia and people are going to think of Mad Max, and with all due respect to that film - and I stress that - I think The Rover is going to be way more chillingly authentic and menacing."

Talking about the characters in the film, Michod said, "There is a strong sort of Asian flavour in the film, but I wanted it to feel like people have come from everywhere, from all corners of the world. Rey is a southern American who has travelled with his older brother Henry to work in the Australian mines. Robert Pattinson and Scoot McNairy are the only American accented characters in the film, but a lot of other accents join them, including Mandarin, Cambodian, and of course, Australian."


3.2. Production Casting

It is the second collaboration between David Michod and Guy Pearce after Animal Kingdom ; Michod wrote the character of Eric for Pearce. In May 2012, it was announced that Pearce would appear as Eric in the film. Initially Joel Edgerton, who co-wrote the story of the film with Michod tried for the role of Eric but it did not work out, according to Edgerton "David ’s character. We even decided to go out one day to shoot a scene together just to work it out for ourselves. It was pretty clear after doing it I’m not the right guy for this movie."

Pattinson won the role of Reynolds after audition, over other actors. Michod commented on the casting of Pattinson that, "he is really smart, and not the sort of pretty boy I was expecting. As soon as it was time to start testing… he was my first choice, by a long way." Pattinson in an interview described the film that, "Its very existential. Its really interesting. I couldnt really explain to you what its about but its sort of about how much pain can the world take and how much disgust and cruelty before love dies. I think thats kind of what its about." Michod used amateur actors from the Australian outback in the film. Talking about that he said, "You cant meet these people and not think, Oh, theres got be a way of getting you in this movie."


3.3. Production Filming

Principal photography commenced on 28 January 2013 in Southern Flinders Ranges, Australia. Filming continued over seven weeks in Hammond, Quorn, Copley, and Leigh Creek, ending on 16 March 2013 in Marree, north of Adelaide, Australia.

Producers Watts and Linde commended the enthusiasm of the cast; they said of the shoot, "The South Australian desert environment can be a tough one to work in, particularly for those coming from a Northern Hemisphere winter but both the cast and crew have thrown themselves into the shoot. We are shooting in some of the most haunting and stunning landscapes in the world, and are fortunate to have such an exceptional cast and a truly talented crew."


4. Music

Antony Partos composed the score for the film. He previously collaborated with Michod on his 2010 film Animal Kingdom. Musician Sam Petty, who previously worked with Michod on Animal Kingdom and Hesher selected the soundtracks and music pieces for the film. The soundtrack album was released by Lakeshore Records in a digital format on 7 October 2014 and would be released in physical format on 11 November 2014.

"Gone" by Clearside was featured in the first teaser trailer of the film.


4.1. Music Background

Talking about the score Partos said that "My task was to build the trust and love between the two main characters despite their circumstances. I think there is a subtle yet tangible shift that develops two thirds of the way through the story and the score does change in this regard to become more harmonically based compared to the textures that are present in the first half of the film."


4.2. Music Soundtrack

Michod wanted to use saxophonist Colin Stetson pieces in the film. Originally he also selected "Dont Cha" by The Pussycat Dolls to use in a crucial scene in the film involving Rey played by Pattinson but later changed it to "Pretty Girl Rock" by Keri Hilson.


5.1. Distribution Marketing and Promotion

The first images of Pearce and Pattinson in the film were released on 13 March 2013. On 10 April 2014, a still of Pattinson from the film was released. On 29 January 2014, the first teaser trailer was released, along with the poster of the film. The full teaser, along with a sneak peek from the film, premiered on TV on 30 January 2014 during the 3rd AACTA Awards broadcast on Network Ten.

With the announcement of the films premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, a full-length official trailer, along with two film posters featuring Pearce and Pattinson, were released on 17 April 2014.


5.2. Distribution Release

The Rover was released in Australia on 12 June 2014. In United States, it had a limited release in Los Angeles and New York City on 13 June 2014, and expanded into wider release on 20 June 2014. It screened at 2014 New Zealand International Film Festival in Thrill section on 20 July 2014. It also served as the opening night film at Fantasy Film Fest, Germany on 27 August 2014. It had a theatrical released in UK on 15 August 2014.


5.3. Distribution Home media

The film released on DVD and Blu-ray in USA on 23 September 2014, by Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Bonus features include deleted scenes and a "making-of" segment title "Something Elemental: Making The Rover". It became available for online streaming and digital download through iTunes and amazon on 23 August 2014 in United States. It was released on DVD in UK on 5 January 2015.


6.1. Reception Box office

The film received a limited release first, similarly like A24s previous releases Spring Breakers and The Bling Ring ; it grossed over $69.302 at an average of $13.860 per theatre in its opening weekend, which took place at 5 theatres in Los Angeles and New York City. It had a wide release at 608 theatres and earned $481.214 at an average of $791 per theatre in its opening weekend. It surpassed The Railway Man for the lowest opening weekend of a film in 600 or more theaters during 2014.

The film has earned a worldwide total of $3.2 million.


6.2. Reception Critical response

Upon its Cannes premiere, the film received generally positive reviews, and Pearce and Pattinsons performances were highly appreciated. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 66% of 165 film critics have given the film a positive review, and it has a rating average of 6.4 out of 10. The sites summary states: "Fueled by engaging performances from Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, the tension-filled The Rover overcomes its narrative faults through sheer watchability." On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 reviews from film critics, the film holds an average score of 64, based on 38 reviews, indicating a generally favorable response.

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times stated that The Rover is a most impressive piece of filmmaking, tense and unrelenting, that chills the blood as well as the soul" and about performances said that "Pearces barely controlled ferocity as Eric is exceptional, but it is not as much of a revelation as Pattinsons unrecognizable work as Rey, a damaged, unfocused individual who is the older mans half-unwilling accomplice". Todd McCarthy, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, wrote that "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" and concluded that it is "An intense look into the near future, and it’s not good." Jessica Kiang in her review for The Playlist, grade the film B+ by saying that "Bleak, brutal and unrelentingly nihilist, and with only sporadic flashes of the blackest, most mordant humour to lighten the load, it feels parched, like the story has simply boiled away in the desert heat and all that’s left are its desiccated bones. In a good way."

However, Scott Foundas of Variety said, "Michod’s sophomore feature isn’t exactly something we’ve never seen before, but it has a desolate beauty all its own." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote, "After a terrific start, the film begins to meander, to lose its way, and its grip." Drew McWeeny of HitFix called the film "glacially paced and intentionally minimalistic."

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino stated that the film is "A mesmerizing, visionary achievement. The best post-apocalyptic movie since the original Mad Max. With the one-two punch of The Rover & Animal Kingdom, David Michod proves himself to be the most uncompromising director of his generation."

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