Who The Fuck Thought This Script Was Finished?: The Confounding Failure of “The Rover”

Review, “The Rover” (Director: David Michod) — * star (out of ****)
Alex’s Least Favorite Movie of 2014

Released June 13, 2014
Directed by David Michod
Written by Michod and Joel Edgerton
Cinematography by Larry Smith
Starring Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, a lot of nap-inducing wide shots
Running Times: 103 hellish minutes
Budget: $12 million
Worldwide Box Office: $2.3 million (good, ’cause this sucked)

Here is yet another ambiguous-narrative indie with a very cool set-up, a solid cast and absolutely nothing else going for it. It feels like a waste not only of its audience’s time but of the time of all the talented folks acting their li’l hearts out (Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson being the headliners) in service of a threadbare plot that isn’t entirely articulated on the screen. Motivations are tabled in favor of mumbling and long stares. Outbursts of sudden, unprompted violence substitute for plot development. The core conceit of “The Rover” (a post-apocalyptic Australia) has been explored, and explored better, in all four “Mad Max” movies — not exactly paragons of storytelling cogency themselves. This fucking thing was only 103 minutes long and I almost fell asleep about 30 minutes into it. And then again around the 1-hour mark. I doubt I would have missed much. I can’t believe it took two people to write this screenplay.

It’s a bummer, because this was director Michod and writer Edgerton’s follow-up to 2010’s “Animal Kingdom,” a flawed-but-promising tale of dynastic mob life Down Under. Edgerton and Michod both belong to an Australian production collective, Blue-Tongue Films. I don’t want to entirely write Blue-Tongue off (apparently Blue-Tongue’s follow-up to this, “The Gift,” is much better and actually has, you know, characters and a story), but… yikes.

Note: In an upcoming podcast, Filmcore contributor Greg Brecher and I will be talking “The Rover” and the rise of the ambiguous-narrative indie in modern American cinema. Stay tuned.

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