The Rover (David Michod)

I suspect one’s enjoyment of this film depends on foreknowledge of the destination. If you know where it’s going, as I did, the title becomes an apt pun, and more importantly, the protagonist’s desire line becomes a lot less opaque. Brooding silences take on a clear subtext, someone’s motivation becomes clear, and seemingly unrelated environmental details – the way dogs bark in the background as Guy Peace’s anger comes to the fore, or a brief glimpse of a dog shelter – point towards the film’s unstated ‘ghost’. Without that knowledge, you’d assume more was going on than is, the coda would be a letdown, and the film would have to stand on its decorative merits. (Which are considerable, starting with that seamless shift from metal-popping opening underscore to the sound atmosphere of the opening scene.) Fortunately that experience wasn’t mine, and I appreciated Michod’s slow but limited unveiling of this dystopian society.

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