DAVID Michôd’s highly-anticipated second feature The Rover, a post-catastrophic thriller set in the South Australian outback, has screened to rave reviews at Cannes.
Michôd’s long-awaited follow-up to 2010s knockout Animal Kingdom tips its hat to George Miller’s Mad Max trilogy while striking a more hypnotic and sombre tone.
The grisly film screened to press on Saturday morning ahead of its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival later that night, out of the main competition.
Variety observed that “Michôd’s sophomore feature isn’t exactly something we’ve never seen before, but it has a desolate beauty all its own, and a career-redefining performance by Robert Pattinson that reveals untold depths of sensitivity and feeling in the erstwhile Twilight star.”
The Hollywood Reporter called the film “hypnotic and disturbing”, noting that its “superior cinematography” and “extraordinary soundtrack” give the “unnerving” movie its “distinctive tone.”
The Los Angeles Times praised the performances, stating “Pearce’s barely controlled ferocity as Eric is exceptional, but it is not as much of a revelation as Pattinson’s unrecognisable work as Rey, a damaged, unfocused individual who is the older man’s half-unwilling accomplice.”
Indiewire also saluted the film’s stars, “Pearce’s scowling appearance and relentless ability to force others to meet his demands — particularly in a sudden burst of violence when he seeks out a firearm — marks his strongest role since Animal Kingdom, while Pattinson finally moves beyond wooden mannerisms to give his awkward character a pathetic, creepy demeanour.”
The Rover is a dystopian, futuristic Western that unfolds in the desert, 10 years after an unnamed global economic collapse which has left Australia bleak and hollowed-out.
Eric (Pearce) is a loner who is ferociously determined to track down the gang who stole his car from a desolate town.
He forces Rey (Pattison), a wounded naive member of the gang who was left behind in the robbery, to help him.
Other Australian films to feature at Cannes are Rolf de Heer’s Charlie’s Country and These Final Hours from first-time filmmaker Zak Hilditch.
Australian actors Ben Mendelsohn (Ryan Gosling’s Lost River), Miranda Otto (Tommy Lee Jones’ The Homesman) and Mia Wasikowska (Maps to the Stars) all feature in in-competition films.
Meanwhile Australian films in the works are being shopped to the market at Cannes including Strangerland, a drama starring Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving.
Others are Michael Petroni’s supernatural thriller Backtrack, starring Adrian Brody, and Kill Me Three Times, a comedy-thriller set in Western Australia starring Simon Pegg.