A brief plot synopsis would tell you that The Rover is a film set in a dystopian Australian outback. Like Mad Max. It would also divulge that the main character is a loner, trailing the Aussie deserts in a bitter conflict with a brazen gang of car thieves. Like Mad Max.
Is this The Road Warrior reboot that we’ve been waiting for? No, it isn’t, but that’s no reason to not get excited. In fact, director David Michôd was quick to dispel the similarities in an interview with Entertainment Weekly last year:
“You put cars in the desert in Australia and people are going to think of Mad Max … and with all due respect to that film — and I stress that — I think The Rover is going to be way more chillingly authentic and menacing.”
So, no Mel Gibson, Toecutter or Tina Turner then? Never mind. It has to be said, though, that may actually be for the best in the long run. As beloved as the Mad Max franchise is, the whole concept is teaming with seventies and eighties cheese. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – but in a climate where super serious interpretations of the Batman films reign supreme – it just seems that a more sombre cinematic tone is the thing to whet the public’s appetite. And indeed, everything about the director’s brief plot synopsis points towards a dark, unflinching style of filmmaking.
Michôd echoes this sentiment in the same interview, focusing on what the film comes down to at the end of the day. He goes on to say:
“It’s like a new gold rush … Where people from all corners of the world have come out to the desert to scrape out an existence. Petty criminals and miscreants and hustlers …the basic story is really quite elemental … you’ve got a really dark, dangerous, murderous person in Guy’s [Pearce] character, and in Rob’s [Pattinson] character you have a quite troubled and damaged, but beautiful and naïve, soul.”
It seems that The Rover’s authenticity will stem from the film being a meditation on the fundamentality of sentient existence, which may, in this case, boil down to the ever-prominent juxtaposition and morality of good versus evil within the limitations of human nature.