9 hours ago
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
Film: 'THE ROVER'
This atmospheric thriller, set in the Australian outback, has long, broody sequences punctuated by high-level violence, mostly with guns.
Set in some not-too-distant future ("ten years after the collapse" - we're not told what this 'collapse' was) it's a lawless world, only the rarely seen army trying to impose some sort of civility. The land we see is very sparsely populated, and quite different from a 'Mad Max' scenario.
Guy Pearce, whom I would not have recognised behind his grizzled, unkempt beard had I not known, plays some kind of gruff drifter who, when he stops for liquid top-up at some remote ramshackle hospitality, has his old car stolen from under his nose by a trio of no-gooders. There then ensues a chase to recover it, he picking up on his way the wounded brother (James Pattinson) of one of the thieves in order to help trace the threesome.
The Pearce character is not a 'victim' with whom one can readily sympathise. He does his own killings with no remorse - some needlessly out of convenience rather than 'necessity' such as self-defence. He's also one hell of a crack shot to boot.
The long sections in which little seems to happen I did find very effective. We know that when the inevitable violence breaks out it will be brutal. The bleak, silent landscape is most impressively captured.
I can well imagine some viewers finding the film on the slow side, willing the action to arrive, but I found that when the latter did happen, the contrast between it and the quieter scenes surrounding it heightened the drama.
However, I do have one major reservation, and it's a regular one from me - viz the indecipherability of much of the dialogue. A great deal of the conversation, though sparse, is slurred and under the breath. (Broad Aussie accents didn't help in this connection either, though I wouldn't stress it as a difficulty). It's okay for the actors, the director (David Michod) and the film crew - they know what the characters are saying. But we don't. What comes out of their mouths is the first time we are hearing it, and it's important to us in imparting information to enable us to follow what's going on. A lot of the time I had to guess, only to be proved wrong later. (I was particularly thrown by the relationship between the Pearce character and the thief's brother). I'm sure it's not my own hearing that's at fault. I don't know how the cast can hear what each other is saying, especially when they're standing 20 feet apart yet talking in what seems like whispers or sleep-mumbling. In real life one of them would be exclaiming "Eh? What did you say?"
So that's my only serious complaint. I think I'd have enjoyed the film a lot more had I been able to follow the plot which, otherwise, ought to have been simple enough, but it became confusing for me. It's a a shame because in other respects 'The Rover' has a great deal going for it............................6.5