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Movie review: 'The Rover'

Australian road film “The Rover” meanders down the highway of nihilistic violence.
Oklahoman Published: June 20, 2014

In David Michod’s follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2010 film “Animal Kingdom,” the director once again taps lead actor Guy Pearce to convey inexplicable brutality, this time beneath the thin explanation of post-apocalyptic survivalism. Pearce plays Eric in “The Rover,” a film that marries the genre of suspenseful crime thriller with classic noir technique.

The execution of Eric’s story is brutal, even psychotic. With every blood-soaked encounter we feel Eric’s removal from reality, the taut and baffling moral code that accompanies every peculiar act. Pearce is adept at playing the tortured soul, and no prior role has called upon him in that capacity more than this one.

The vicious premise of “Rover” finds Eric in hot pursuit of a gang of ne’er-do-wells who abscond with his vehicle in a desperate attempt to flee a scene of murder and mayhem. The setting is a barren Australian wilderness, backed by a sparse (and occasionally confusing) ambient soundtrack that enhances the tense nature of every interaction.

As Eric pursues the criminals who stole his car, he encounters one of their siblings, Ray (Robert Pattinson), a simple-minded fool with a narrow grasp of the circumstances, who was caught in crime-related crossfire and abandoned by his brother and cronies.

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