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It's been four years since Australian filmmaker David Michôd wowed at the Sundance Film Festival with his blistering feature debut "Animal Kingdom." He's finally back with the equally violent and bleak "The Rover," which just premiered out of competition at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and opens in June via A24.
Set in the Australian outback ten years after the collapse of society, "The Rover" centers on Eric ("Animal Kingdom" star Guy Pearce), a weary, hardened man who strikes up an odd relationship with a young, socially awkward American (Robert Pattinson), after his car gets stolen. With the help of his new companion, Eric sets off on a bloody journey to track down his car at any cost.
Indiewire sat down with Michôd in Cannes to discuss his experience at the festival, why it took so long to follow up "Animal Kingdom," and why he cast Pattinson in a role sure to surprise the actor's many fans.
This marks your first time at Cannes. How's it been?
It is as I had always imagined it. The madness of it. That strange mix of money and gross-ass luxury with a true and sincere reverence for cinema. I haven't experienced it anywhere else.
Having Robert Pattinson by your side no doubt increased the amount of flashes going off on the red carpet the other night.
Yeah, there were moments where I realized that none of them were actually pointing at me [laughs].
About those expectations, how have you dealt with them coming into the festival without driving yourself mad?I've dealt with it by distracting myself with other work. If I hadn't I would have just spent the last several months sitting around causing myself to suffer. But it has been strange. Certainly this has become apparent for me here. I realized that I just had to let it go. I have no control over other people's expectations.
It does boast the lightest scene of Cannes, where Pattinson's character sings along to a Keri Hilson jam alone in a car.You're the first person to bring that up! I kind of half expected it would be a thing. When I was doing press for "Animal Kingdom" every press person would ask me about "All Out of Love."
What went into selecting that song?One of the things that was challenging for this movie was it was set in a period of the future, so it makes musical choices really kind of difficult. I'd imagine that maybe there's a sense that pop is still some kind of functioning genre, like the equivalent to classic rock. I wanted at that point in the movie to remind people that Rob's character is a lost kid, one who in different circumstances would have favored pop songs. I just wanted that moment in the film to be a strong reminder of the fact that he just wants to be a kid.
About his performance, he's a true revelation in "The Rover." What led you to cast him?
It was a meeting. I still haven't seen the "Twilight" films. I don't feel I need to. I had a meeting with him before I knew I was going to make "The Rover," and found him instantly beguiling.
Why did you meet with him if you weren't familiar with his work?
I'd seen nothing. It's that weird thing that happens after a movie you've made has gotten some attention — you go on a billion blind dates. And this was one of them. I didn't really know anything about him, but I really liked him. He was really smart, funny and open. He seemingly had great taste. He had a really interesting and eclectic knowledge of cinema. When it came time to cast for "The Rover," I just had this weird feeling that he was the one I wanted to see the most. Fortunately he really wanted to do the movie.
I mean I put him through the wringer. We worked for three of four hours during our camera test, but I felt I knew within the first few minutes that I found the guy for the character. The next few hours were just us exploring. He helped me find the character.
source: RPL via ToR