A24 has been having a good decade. The fledgling studio first formed back in 2012, and since then has already made a name for itself among other indie production companies thanks to a swath of critical successes – some controversial (Spring Breakers), others less so (The Spectacular Now). In 2014 alone, A24 can already claim the likes of Enemy, Under the Skin, and – soon enough – the upcoming Locke to its credit; that’s an elliptical release slate for sure, but one that may prove even more successful than last year’s.
Now, they’re adding The Rover to their schedule, and the movie looks more bleak than oblique courtesy of a desolate Australian desert backdrop and a throughline of justice. It doesn’t hurt that the cast is in full-on gritty mode; a bearded and scowling Guy Pearce (Iron Man 3, Lawless) joins with a wide-eyed and naive Robert Pattinson (Twilight), with supporting players like Scoot McNairy (12 Years a Slave, Gone Girl) filling in the gaps.
To top it all off, the whole troupe is led by none other than David Michôd, who directed Pearce in the 2009 crime thriller Animal Kingdom. That conglomerate of talent is nothing to sneeze at, particularly since The Rover sees Michôd and Pearce working in familiar territory, not just in terms of location – few actors know the unforgiving terrain of back-country Australia like Pearce – but in terms of genre; Michôd appears to be quite comfortable with crime dramas.
But despite the similarities, first impressions suggest that The Rover couldn’t be more different from Animal Kingdom. The Rover revolves around Eric (Pearce), a grim, stoic loner whose car – one of his sole possessions – is stolen from him by a gang of thieves, led by Henry (McNairy) and his younger brother, Reynold (Pattinson). The scheme goes south, leaving an injured Reynold behind; Eric takes him in, has him patched up, and recruits him in a bid to track down the purloined vehicle, along with Henry’s gang.
If the trailer suggests anything, it’s that the unlikely pair wind up bonding along the way, but more than anything, The Rover‘s teaser hints at unflinching violence. Frankly, the movie looks downright apocalyptic, though it’s not clear whether the narrative unfolds on a future Earth in the wake of some world-changing catastrophe, or if Michôd’s setting is just barren by nature. Maybe Eric lives at the edge of the world to avoid human contact; maybe the planet has just been scorched.
Synopses on the film don’t reveal much in one way or another, so it’ll be up to early reviews to shine a light on the truth here. Fortunately, The Rover premieres at Cannes this year, so expect to hear word of mouth on it soon. The rest of us, meanwhile, have to wait for June to see it ourselves, but it looks like it’ll be worth the wait.
The Rover opens in New York and LA on June 13th, 2014, and goes wide on June 20th, 2014.