The Rover @ Hackney Picturehouse

HackneyPicturehouse

Hackney Picturehouse is a spectacular cinema that really gives a sense of occasion to ‘going to the pictures.’ Opposite the town square, the giant glowing PICTUREHOUSE lettering across the front of the building is an unmissable beacon in the East-End-evening. Part of the well-known Picturehouse chain, what makes this branch stand out from its siblings?

  • Hackney Attic: A defining part of this cinema on the second floor, and a great space to hang out in the evening. Lots of musicy stuff going on up there.
  • Its size: Much larger than other Picturehouses, the multiple open-plan floors lined with posters give this spacious, sprawling building a grand feel – a bit like a museum.
  • Film posters: I was more than happy to see a gigantic floor-to-ceiling advert for Ari Folman’s The Congress (arguably the most stunning visual cinema experience so far this year) upon entry, and then smaller posters throughout the lobby and cafe. HP have got their priorities right; they know what’s worth drawing attention to.

With a range of different sized screens for different film occasions, coming to HP is always a treat. The only factor that puts me off – well, repels me, really – is the cafe and bar on the ground floor. Waiting for my (habitually) late friend, I decided, this time around, to order some homey soup and sourdough bread. I only had 15 minutes to the film and I thought better of ordering a larger meal. The first knockback was that they were out of sourdough and could only offer flatbread, which does not bode that well with soup (it disintegrates immediately). The second blow was when I dared to ask for salted butter instead of unsalted: the girl behind the counter looked at me as if I’d just morphed into a cartoon a’ la Robin Wright.

And some interesting drinks would have been nice. They did sport a tantalising-looking rest-of-menu, however, which I didn’t sample, so maybe it was just a poor choice in the soup on my part. There wasn’t much time to dwell on it, as in flew my flustered friend, and up we went to Screen 2 to take our pick of reclining velvety chairs to see David Michod’s The Rover.

_ROV7508.nefTen years post-apocaplypse in the Australian outback (quite a different vibe to the Inbetweeners 2 movie, though), an unlikely duo collide and join vengeful forces to track down Guy Pearce’s one remaining posession of value: his car.

The Rover had the general structure of a whodunnit in that the pivotal reveal came at the very end, when you (spoiler) realise Eric (Guy Pearce) wants his car back so badly because it has the body of his dead dog in the boot. And like a whodunnit, there isn’t much else to it other than realising this, by which point the film is over. It wasn’t that there weren’t visual hooks throughout Michod’s second feature to sink you teeth into – sweeping vista shots of a sinking purple sunset as the lads zoomed along the road, close ups of Pearce’s emotive face collapsing with memory – but without the substantial backbone of a proper story, this film fell short of what Michod is clearly capable of from Animal Kingdom (2010).

Generally, I guess The Rover accomplishes what it sets out to do. Guy Pearce is fully believable as a roaming nomad with a violent past, and what information we are fed about his life pre-apocalypse is satisfying. He is a man on a mission is a sparse environment, trying to adapt as he goes. There is a permeating sense of a lack of control, a dysfunctionality of all the characters, who give the impression of wandering through limbo, and perhaps this is why it feels foundationless: nobody knows what the point is anymore, and no one cares about the fact.

Robert Pattinson as Eric’s companion (or hostage) ‘Reynolds’ will probably be the highlight of The Rover for most people. Seeing the infamous ‘R-Patz’ as a slow American southerner, slurring and needy, almost extinguishes the memory of Twilight. (Almost: it’s going to take a few more features to get rid of it completely)… He is highly convincing, and I even felt an empathetic twinge towards this young deserted boy, who oozes vulnerability in the shadow of the hardened Eric, and when faced with his brother and his bandit cronies.

Antony Partos and Sam Petty, both of whom had worked on Animal Kingdom to create a perfect soundtrack, do themselves an injustice with the music in The Rover. The first third or so of the film was plagued by an ongoing drone, which was supposedly there to give a sense of foreboding, but which only served to annoy me in the same way that the endless drone on Masterchef does. It felt like it was filling a hole that the story should have, at that point.

As a follow up to the thrilling Animal Kingdom, although the obvious talent of Michod’s directing is present, acting as the screenwriter too was obviously a poor choice that resulted in this film lacking in fundamental narrative meatiness. He has tried to strip back the film to basic human survival, but has ended up with something a bit too empty. The Rover would have made an excellent short.

Best bits of the whole Viewing Experience:

  • Seeing R-Patz’ with yellow crooked teeth is a constant scream.
  • R’Patz unable to stop himself breaking into ‘Pretty Girl Rock’ by Keri Hilson when alone in the car, being the bizarre cherry on top of the plot icing – does anyone know what they’re doing, on or off screen??
  • The sleep-inducing (especially in this film) recliner chairs – the perfect bum-holder after a day in the office.

The Final Word: Worthit to hear Robert Pattinson sing Pretty Girls Rock

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