Yes, Robert Pattinson is in “The Rover.”
No, you shouldn’t go see the movie, opening Friday, just to swoon over him because you still stridently declare yourself to be Team Edward.
Set in the Australian Outback 10 years after “the collapse” — of the economy, civilization, you name it — “The Rover” comes across like an art-film hybrid of “Mad Max” and “Dude, Where’s My Car?”
During a pit stop at a rural outpost, a drifter named Eric (Guy Pearce) has his car stolen by three armed, but not terribly menacing, hoodlums. Tearing after them in the truck they wrecked and discarded, Eric encounters a collection of miscreants and weirdos, each of whom he angrily greets with some variation of, “I’m looking for my car. There were three men in it.”
The truck he’s been left with seems much better-suited to the rugged terrain. One woman he holds at gunpoint even remarks that a car seems like a silly thing to get that worked up about, right around the time she offers him sex with her young grandson.
Eventually, Eric encounters Rey (Pattinson), who was left behind to die by his brother, one of the bandits, after he was gutshot during a robbery. So Eric drags the wounded Rey halfway across Australia looking for the brother and that car.
Pattinson is very good as Rey, but it’s not the sort of character you’re going to want on T-shirts, posters and cardboard standees.
With his jacked-up teeth, somewhat Sling Blade-ish mutterings and a collection of tics, he’s not altogether there. But it’s never explained whether he was born that way or, as they used to say, done got mule kicked. (The press notes describe him as “naive.”)
It’s a small performance in a small film. But there are enough moments — Rey making awkward small talk with Eric; Rey slowly revealing just how emotionally wounded he is; Rey alone in the truck, singing along in a strained falsetto to Keri Hilson’s “Pretty Girl Rock” — to let his talent sparkle like a certain vampire in the sunlight.