Producer of The Rover David Linde makes a point about suspension of disbelief and realism in movie making. A film works “as long as you believe in its world”.
And though it isn’t in the film, the titular, fatalistic song from Neil Young‘s second album could be a gently apt signifier of post-apocalyptic movies. Pick your poison. Lawless wasteland or ruined cityscape, everybody knows this is nowhere.
Applied to post-apocalyptic movies, there are levels of meaning to these utterances. They speak to our fascination and fear if, or when, society cracks apart. From Walking Dead to Divergent, we wonder how we’d personally fare. Which way would we squirm under the thumb of the new dystopia? Or do we have it in ourselves to scrape our way back after the collapse of everything? Which we know will certainly be something to do with the infrastructure surrounding oil or water.
Give up hope. What does it matter? Everybody knows this is nowhere.
Believe in man’s future. Civilization needs another chance.
In The Rover, an event ten years past has broken the back of the world. In Australia there’s a semblance of commerce. It’s implied there’s still work in the mining industry, but only U.S. paper money matters. It’s best used to buy guns. Law and order? Some guys in camo with radios doing paperwork. The heat doesn’t let up. Everyone’s on edge. Three not very nice men have met with some trouble. One bleeds and bemoans leaving his brother behind. Somewhere back a ways. They crash their truck and then steal the wrong man’s car. He takes on the injured, left-behind brother as a guide. He makes it clear the man has a finite amount of usefulness.
See the film. A slim mood piece in a classic science fiction short story vein that could be unsatisfying since the film traffics in answering no questions. It’s equal portions cold and sensitive, grimy and nihilistic and up to its elbows in the characters’ own slashed humanity. Sure, it’s set in Mad Max‘s zip code and people bathe in their own drinking water but for every archetype offered, director David Michôd is writer enough to explode expectations with handsome dialogue, committed performances and unexpected staging. Guy Pearce as that “wrong man” is impeccable as a harbinger of nothing but the power of sweat soaked inertia. What he does with a role that has the potential to be bone-headed and one-note rivals Viggo Mortensen‘s turn in The Road. This is the end of the world for broken-hearted pragmatists.
Foreshadowing and faltering plot tics would be spoilers all around, so do yourself a favor. Don’t predict events. He wants his car back. You’ll find out why.
Let’s be hopeful.
Hopeful that, like in the movies, an authoritarian leadership will rise up to preserve humanity in underground silos with televised murder galas between sub sects of society each with their own set of special skills to allow them to escape a maze while zombies suppress the individuality in all of us until one young woman (read: charismatic messiah figure) shows us how to hug and rebuild humanity.
Sadly no. I’ll just jack your car’s gas, man. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 9/23/14