Review / ‘The Rover’ (MA) ** and a half

CO-WRITER (with Joel Edgerton) and director David Michöd’s powerful outback thriller hit the ground running with expectations of great promise.

The RoverAfter a decade of economic stagnation accompanied by the abandonment of law and order, former soldier Eric (Guy Pearce) stopping for a drink at an outback village sees three guys making off with his car. The film tells of the lengths he must go to to get it back.

We learn the nature of the obsession driving this plot about five seconds before the final credits roll, after about a minute in which inwardly to conjecture “a-ha, is that why we’ve endured all this killing and anger and social collapse?”

“The Rover” delivers a large butcher’s bill. Eric is the last character standing. The explanation for his uncompromising behaviour is so simple that we may exit the cinema thinking, yes, moral restraint carries little weight when a world turned topsy-turvy by a monstrous economic cataclysm drives people to kill people they’ve scarcely met. Eric really doesn’t care what happens to him once he gets the car back. His emotional decline began when he shot his wife and the man he found intimately fingering her.

Eric’s companion along outback roads is Rey (Robert Pattinson), the intellectually-incomplete younger brother of Henry (Scoot McNairy) who before fleeing in Eric’s car left Rey on the ground believing he was dead. These three are the film’s only characters with a continuing screen presence.

Michöd’s staging admires the SA outback between bouts of shooting people while telling a story devoid of humour and not overburdened by compassion.

While “The Rover” isn’t lovely, it doesn’t explain how things got how it depicts them but it’s not easy to pass by as insignificant.

At Dendy, Capitol 6 and Palace Electric

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