Tuesday, 19 August 2014

REVIEW - THE ROVER (DAVID MICHOD)


Never mind not knowing what you've got until you've lost it, The Rover is about what you're left with. David Michod is less cryptic than he intends to be about the genesis of his desolated Australia, a barren landscape scattered with the ravaged remnants of a society that has eaten itself and intends to continue on that violent path. He's wise to leave as much of The Rover as possible to the audience's discretion - the bursts of dialogue that Michod sandwiches between picturesque sequences of savage beauty and even more savage bloodshed are didactic, the tales he tells too florid and, frankly, boring. There it is: this film deserved more of my attention than it received at those points, but it didn't exactly earn it. Those points which did receive that attention were, conversely, those of stillness and silence. Michod's imagery may, ostensibly, be mere stylistic posturing, but it at least serves some slight atmospheric or narrative purpose, and he lends his aesthetic a palpable gravity. It's a forced gravity, certainly, but no less visceral for that. And The Rover is a surprisingly strong example of the strength of apparent contradiction in that sense - its most powerful sequences involve Michod's most daring, glaring gambits, its least powerful his most trustworthy. Aside from his use of violence as a storytelling tool - a serious step up from his contemporaries' approach, by and large - his lofty philosophising is less thought-provoking than snigger-provoking, his abstract concepts actually far more immediately potent, such as the most curiously poignant usage of a Keri Hilson song you'll surely ever hear. It's when Michod gains control of his grand cinematic concepts that his point becomes clear: The Rover is a film about care - how we come to care for things or for people, the lengths we go to in preserving that which we care for. Its setting may be fantastical, but its message is easily relatable. It's this that makes The Rover such a rewarding watch, despite its flaws.