David and Guy reflect on ‘The Rover’ in this feature article by Jack Giroux. We’ve shared a couple of excerpted quotes below and you can read the full article at Film School Rejects.
It’s a lean movie compared to Michôd’s directorial debut Animal Kingdom, and that was by design. “I wanted to make something much more elemental and an intensely intimate about a small number of characters in vast and empty landscape,” Michôd tells us, reflecting on The Rover‘s stiflingly hot environments while sitting in the air conditioned meeting room of the Four Seasons Hotel. “I love the idea of making a movie that would work in a similar tonal world as Animal Kingdom, but be of a different form.”
At the center of this “dark fable that plays by slightly different rules,” Eric roams through a quasi-post-apocalyptic Australian desert. Who Eric was before the economic collapse is mostly a mystery, but the man in his mid-40s was never an enigma to Michôd. “He’s old enough to remember what life used to be like, while young enough to still be vital and dangerous,” he explains. “He’s a man that had been a farmer and likely fought in a war over recourses. He came back from the war to discover something hurtful, while the world is falling apart.”
Eric is a character we come to know through his battered physicality and actions. When Eric goes after the men who stole his car, he does it in such a methodical way it implies this isn’t the first time he’s had to chase somebody down. Still, some viewers may leave the film curious about who exactly Eric is, and that curiosity was Pearce’s first impression when he read the script. “I thought, ‘This is kind of amazing, but I don’t know what it is.’ It took some convincing from David to actually do the film,” he tells us. “I didn’t really understand the character and who he had been. The empty vessel you see on the screen is kind of the empty vessel you see on the page. I was struggling to get a sense of who he was.”
While Michôd and Pearce envisioned an elaborate backstory for the character, we only see inklings of it. “I don’t need to put it on the screen, but I need to feel confident and comfortable with who the character is, even if the character is uncomfortable or struggling,” Pearce says. “I don’t want to be asking too many questions when I step on the set. You have to inhabit the character without thinking about it.” An interesting creative method, Pearce is faced with answering the same questions Michôd wants to leave an audience with.
If you haven’t gauged by now, The Rover is about more than a broken man going after one of his few possessions. Some critics have called the film “slight,” a criticism Michôd doesn’t take kindly to. “For the people who see it only as a guy going after his car, that’s deeply dissatisfying,” Michôd sighs. “When I read it’s ‘underwritten,’ I think they haven’t tried to read the movie.”