VeryAware.com talks ‘The Rover’ with director David Michôd and cast members Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce.
Writer-director David Michôd has been crafting invigorating cinematic tension on the silver screen since 2010’s ANIMAL KINGDOM, his feature-length debut. Now the Aussie auteur returns to theaters with the crime-drama THE ROVER, a scorching tale of lawlessness and consequences. Taking place ten years after an economic and societal collapse has rocked Australia, the film follows Eric (Guy Pearce) on a quest to find thieves that stole his car. Along the way, he picks up naïve Rey (Robert Pattinson), who becomes Eric’s accomplice in the ensuing frey.
Guns are the main form of justice and protection in this new society post-collapse, but in real life, Pattinson and Pearce are anti-firearms. Pattinson says,
“I don’t like the feeling of it. I mean, obviously you get a little thrill… a little power trip of it. I especially felt silly holding a gun. Especially while shooting targets. After a while it just loses it’s luster.”
“I, too, have a real issue with guns. I find they should just be banished off the face of the Earth. They’re awful things. I feel really comfortable with them now, as a prop, because I’ve done so many things with guns. And they’re fascinating! As Rob said, there’s incredible thrill, and power that you feel as soon as you have one in your hands because of the understanding of what you are capable of doing with this thing is, sort of, off the charts. It’s ridiculous, and it’s enticing, and it’s awful all at the same time. It just astounds me that so many people own guns in the world.”
Music plays somewhat of a background role in this pristine picture. In the beginning, it helps the audience get acquainted with the dystopian world at hand.
Michôd says he chose Cambodian songs because he wanted us,
“…to feel like Australia had a major geo-political type shift. Where Australia had been reduced to a kind of resource-less third-world country. I wanted the world of The Rover to feel like Australia was experiencing a new gold rush. People were coming from all corners of the world to work in and around mines. Given where Australia is on the map, we are kind of right there on the middle of Southeast Asia, almost, that there would have been a lot of people from that part of the world who would’ve come out.”
As in the case of many of Michôd’s previous works, he crafts a precise balance of mood and atmosphere. And it’s especially noticeable in THE ROVER. He says,
“I feel like I have a reasonable grip on what I want to achieve while I’m shooting. I have a feeling there are certain places where I will want things to linger – where I will want to milk transitions or just generally leave space for what I know my beautiful collaborators in the world of post production will bring to the process. I don’t know what the experience is like for you guys.”
Pearce, who’s worked with the auteur before on ANIMAL KINGDOM, was familiar with Michôd ’s style going in.
“Obviously, I’ve seen Animal Kingdom, but I’ve seen David’s shorts as well. Not to suggest he has a tone that he sets and it’s gonna be the same on every movie, but in looking at the script and seeing those films, talking with David before we start. It really feels we get a sense of it. One of the things I really respond to is the tone of a movie –whether it’s a comedy or whatever it happens to be. Not that I do many comedies. I think it’s one of those things you really feel through your skin. In a sense that enables you to understand the rhythm that you’re kinda gonna work in and the rhythm of the character, etc. It’s the kind of stuff you are aware of to a certain degree even if you don’t necessarily talk about it everyday.”
THE ROVER has an unrelenting, bleak tonality, however, there is one moment of levity in the picture when Keri Hilson’s “Pretty Girl Rock” plays on the stereo. Pattinson says,
“I didn’t realize how massive a song it was. I though David just found it. I kind of like that song.”
“I wanted there to, at that particular juncture in the film, be a moment that reminds the audience that Rob’s character was just a kid who in different circumstances would probably just be listening to music, and thinking about girls, and playing with his hair in the mirror. At that particular juncture of the movie – for that to be a reminder that Rob was just a kid, for that moment, to sit, and stew, and then for him to get out of that car and step over to Guy at the campfire and say something really, kind of, sad and tragic.”
Pattinson is a little unsure what his fanbase will make of him in this dramatic departure from the TWILIGHT franchise.
“I don’t really have any particular preconceived plan. Even each of the TWILIGHT movies – I kind of approached them all as individual movies. I never really saw it as ‘Oh, going back to work on…’ I don’t know. You can’t really predict what an audience is going to like, or want, or even if they’re going to follow you to anything. I think if you try to make challenging stuff, and you put your heart into it – hopefully at least one other person is going to like it.”
Though THE ROVER can be seen as depressive and discordant, there’s a slight tinge of hopefulness as well. Pattinson explains,
“The Rover I think was always really hopeful. I think it’s really funny – I think the end is sad…”
Michôd chimes in,
“It’s sad, but there is hope in sadness, often…It’s a recognition of things that are important, and when that recognition happens too late, that in itself is innately sad, but it’s not hopeless.”
THE ROVER is now playing in New York and Los Angeles and opens wide on June 20.