Pearce is fiercely impressive here as a man who gave up on the human race even before the latest round of calamities, and if there are occasional glimpses of the kinder, gentler man he might once have been, we are more frequently privy to his savage survival instincts. But it's Pattinson who turns out to be the film's greatest surprise, sporting a convincing Southern accent and bringing an understated dignity to a role that might easily have been milked for cheap sentimental effects. With his slurry drawl and wide-eyed, lap-dog stare, Rey initially suggests a latter-day Lennie Small, but he isn't so much developmentally disabled as socially regressed — an overprotected mama's boy suddenly cast to the wolves — and Pattinson never forces or overdoes anything, building up an empathy for the character that’s entirely earned. He becomes an oasis of humanity in this stark, forsaken land.
By The Los Angeles Times:
Unaccountably slotted for the midnight section of the festival rather than the main competition, "The Rover" is a most impressive piece of filmmaking, tense and unrelenting, that chills the blood as well as the soul.
It not only features head-turning performances by Pearce as a man ferociously determined to get his stolen car back and Pattinson as someone dragged along in his wake, it is set in a completely terrifying world. It's 10 years after an unnamed global economic collapse, and this part of Australia has become a bleak and hopelessly hollowed-out society that Michod and his team have superbly created.
Pearce's barely controlled ferocity as Eric is exceptional, but it is not as much of a revelation as Pattinson's unrecognizable work as Rey, a damaged, unfocused individual who is the older man's half-unwilling accomplice.
By The Hollywood Reporter:
Pattinson delivers a performance that, despite the character's own limitations, becomes more interesting as the film moves along, suggesting that the young actor might indeed be capable of offbeat character work. But always commanding attention at the film's center is Pearce, who, under a taciturn demeanor, gives Eric all the cold-hearted remorselessness of a classic Western or film noir anti-hero who refuses to die before exacting vengeance for an unpardonable crime.
By The Playlist:
Pearce is reliably riveting as the totally stonefaced Man With No Name Except Maybe Eric, and Michod exploits his charisma for all its worth in the many extended takes of his inscrutable, unreadable mien, while Pattinson, who we were initially worried might be too tic-laden to fully convince, actually turns in a performance that manages to be more affecting than affected. It's certainly the best we've seen him deliver, despite the rather standard-issue-halfwit yokel accent and the actor commits to it wholly. The contrast between these men, Pattinson as twitchy as Pearce is impassive is marked and its in the space between the two, punctuated by bursts of gunfire, that the film really lives.
Accompanied by an eclectic score of drones and electronic pulses interrupted by some incongruous tracks (including a very funny, slightly meta use of "Don't hate me cause I'm beautiful" as hummed-along-to by Pattinson) the story Michod and Joel Edgerton came up with, all the way back before "Animal Kingdom" may not quite reach the heights of that crime saga, but it arguably fulfills another important function: it shows Michod work with other genres and textures, and still make a film that is unmistakably his, and that is how auteurs are made.
By Little White Lies
Performances are pitched just right between hard-bitten and mournful. Guy Pierce, as all know, has stoically grizzled down to a fine art, while Pattinson manages his new non-heart-throb ground (the make-up team have wrought merry hell on his teeth) with admirable pathos. His limp, hick accent, facial tics and staccato delivery play second, third, fourth and fifth fiddle to a whole lot of heart, and one that Eric cannot help but fall for. If there’s one thing this violent metaphysical drama emphasises it’s that heart is, when all else fails, a man’s best friend.
By The Guardian:
Michôd creates a good deal of ambient menace in The Rover; Pearce has a simmering presence. But I felt there was a bit of muddle, and the clean lines of conflict and tension had been blurred: the dystopian future setting doesn't add much and hasn't been very rigorously imagined. I even had the suspicion that the screenplay should perhaps have gone through one or two more drafts, or perhaps returned to an earlier draft, when casting was clearer. Well, Michôd certainly delivers some brain-frazzling heat and directionless despair.
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 demeanor.
Robert Pattinson's Rey seems like he's barely able to function as a person. He mumbles, he seems like a bit of a dummy, and while he seems capable of violence, he feels like a scared kid who's constantly terrified of everyone else, unsure why people do what they do, unable to communicate on those rare occasions that the synapses all actually do fire. He's very good in the role, and while I'm not crazy about the film as a whole, if Pattinson keeps making choices like this and his ongoing collaboration with David Cronenberg, there may actually be a future for him where people are genuinely shocked to learn that he starred in the "Twilight" movies.
When we first see Pattinson, he is covered in dust (as is just everything else in this film) and clutching a gun wound to his gut. His hair has been chopped down to an unglamorous crew cut, and his teeth are those of a lifelong tobacco-spitter. He speaks in a high-pitched Southern drawl, and he’s as twitchy as Pearce is ice-cold and deliberate. In one endearing sequence, Pattinson even busts out a falsetto to sing along to the chorus of Keri Hilson’s "Pretty Girl Rock."
Pearce is the center of the film and a forceful presence as usual, but Pattinson puts in a formidable and truly transformative performance all his own. Rey is an unattractive character in an unattractive world, with rotten teeth, a bad haircut, and an off-putting, twitchy demeanor, but there's no sense that Pattinson did any of this in a superficial effort to ugly himself up and distance himself from his heartthrob image. If anything, the role should stand as proof to any doubters that with the right director and the freedom to break free of his own public persona, Pattinson has real ability and magnetism on screen.
By First Showing:
While the film and its experience is fresh in my mind, the more I begin to think about it and process it even as I begin writing about it, the more I realize how much Michôd has hidden in the silence, in the quietness and dialogue-free moments. In turn, this makes every last word spoken that much more important. Pearce, similar to Ryan Gosling in Drive, carefully chooses every word, every twitch, every muscle in his body to deliver a performance that speaks volumes while actually saying very little. Even Robert Pattinson, giving one of his best fidgety, aloof performances to date, has so much more to say between every word he speaks.
The Rover = Masterpiece. #Cannes2014— David Ketchum (@KetchumAtMovies) May 17, 2014
Guy Pearce is very good in the Rover. Just wish ending hit you with more of an emotional punch. #Cannes2014— gregoryellwood (@HitFixGregory) May 17, 2014
The Rover is tough stuff. Biggest departure 4 Robert Pattinson to date. Movie has impressive moments but too precious 4 material. #Cannes— gregoryellwood (@HitFixGregory) May 17, 2014
THE ROVER: Clint & Mel comparisons for dystopic Aussie road pic, but Steinbeck loneliness resonates. Guy Pearce & Robert Pattinson, top form— Peter Howell (@peterhowellfilm) May 17, 2014
The Rover - Subversive, gritty, brutal, questionable. Touches of first Mad Max. A very quiet, but loud film. Bearded Guy Pearce is badass.— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) May 17, 2014
Similar to Drive, the power of The Rover is in its silence, and all the imagery. Michod's choices and shots speak loudly without being loud.— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) May 17, 2014
David Michod's The Rover is The Road as directed by Nicolas Refn #Cannes2014— Steven Zeitchik (@ZeitchikLAT) May 17, 2014
Michod's 'The Rover': Raw, dirty dystopia in near-future Aussie Outback. Not as substantial as 'Animal Kingdom,' but hypnotic. #Cannes2014— Jake Coyle (@jake_coyle) May 17, 2014
ROVER-desert dry, deliberately paced post-Western revenge film. Pearce sizzles, Robert Pattinson's Joaquin-like role best yet #Cannes2014— Jason Gorber (@filmfest_ca) May 17, 2014
THE ROVER: bleak and beautiful. Pattinson's best performance by a long shot. Pearce is excellent as always.— Nigel M. Smith (@nigelmfs) May 17, 2014
The Rover: Pearce and Pattinson impress in David Michod's post-apocalypse. Not as much power as Animal Kingdom, but great nonetheless.— Joe Utichi (@joeutichi) May 17, 2014
Robert Pattinson has real talent, often overlooked. Him singing "don't hate my cos I'm beautiful" pretty apt. #Cannes2014— Joe Utichi (@joeutichi) May 17, 2014
The reviews for the movie are a mixed bag
but yay for Rob and Guy getting unanimous praise!