Looking back on the film, this really sets the tone for the next hour and forty five minutes. This is a sparse movie, cutting the plot and exposition to the bone, leaving a tale as rawboned and gaunt as the characters.
It tells you nothing you don't absolutely need to know, like the nature of the Collapse. It doesn't matter. Shit is so far gone that nobody cares about how it got that way anymore.
I'm pretty sure that this is the latest in a trend in movies, where the funding comes from governmental agencies, tied to the promise by the filmmaker to ensure that they show off the beauty of the land, presumably to encourage tourism. As a result, despite the sparse nature of the film, it feels maybe ten or fifteen minutes too long. Without that extra time, though, it's doubtful the movie would have gotten made, and it's a fair trade for the wide open views of Australia. The vivid colors that float above the dry and dusty brown where the humans live.
The result is something that feels like a cross between the Road Warrior, but with the breadth and scope of The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford. It's a movie that showcases the beauty of the land, even as mankind roots about in its own shit. It's as much a slow seduction as a film - it pulls you in, teasing you with beauty and ugliness combined, innocence and damnation, black humor and bleak realism.
As for the acting, Guy Pierce is Guy Pierce. 'Nuff said.
The real surprise, though, is Robert Pattinson. It's unfortunate that he cut his teeth in Twilight - this is twice now that he's surprised me. While Cosmopolis was ultimately forgettable, he stood out, and here again he disappears into his role, perhaps even more so than in Cronenberg's weak outing. The range of acting on display in his role is nothing short of remarkable, and really drives home the ending.
It's a testament to the directors of this film that you are sucked into the movie to the extent that you assume the same intensity as Guy Pierce's character. The hows and the why's fall away, leaving you only with the Now. You stop asking questions. You accept situations with the same equanimity that you do the introduction - Ten Years After the Collapse. You quickly realize that it doesn't matter.
It's not until the end that you're reminded that some things do matter, and all of a sudden, you reevaluate everything that has come before, and only by seeing the distance between your perceptions at the beginning and the end of the film, only then do you understand what it truly means to live in that world.