Title – Tracks (2013)
Director – John Curran (The Painted Veil)
Cast – Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Emma Booth, Rainer Bock
Plot – Based on a true story, Tracks documents the journey of Robyn Davidson (Wasikowska) and her trek through the desert of Western Australia from the dry lands to the ocean, with only herself, 4 camels and her trusty dog as company.
“There are new kinds of nomads, not people who are at home everywhere, but who are at home nowhere. I was one of them”
Review by Eddie on 11/09/2014
The Australian outback has long been the subject of feature length films in this country, from the unique experience that is Walkabout, the gritty violence that permeates the Western like The Proposition, the family friendly joys of Red Dog and now adding to that list (amongst many others) is John Currans beautifully shot yet not always easy to love Tracks, a true life tale that creates one of the better Australian films of the last few years thanks to a top quality production and a very strong lead performance from the ever watchable Mia Wasikowska.
The story of real life wanderer Robyn Davidson succeeding on screen hinged almost solely on the shoulders of the actress tasked with bringing her and her trek to life and Curran found the perfect match in the casting of Wasikowska. While Wasikowska may always in some way be known as Alice from Wonderland there is no doubt that she is quickly establishing herself as one of the most consistent and daring actresses in the industry today with her ability to choose challenging and unique roles always evident in her work. Davidson is by no means an easy character to portray but Wasikowska nails her completely right down to a striking physical resemblance to the real life lady. While Wasikowska is faultless in her performance, it’s also in this that the films biggest stumbling block appears, for Davidson is not an altogether likeable person and being asked to endure this trip to the great barren lands with her at times can take its toll.
Davidson is no doubt a fierce and determined lady but at times throughout her trip she can become rude, unthankful and in some strange way pretentious. Even in the small act of taking her pet dog on her journey grates a little, a selfish act towards an animal that showcases Davidson was a person living for herself to the exclusion of all others. Her treatment of National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan (played by everyone’s favourite indie go to man Adam Driver) is quite shameful, lover one minute and uncaring the next. While Davidson remains someone a little hard to respect, in whole what can be respected is the Curran’s work behind camera. After much promise but not always execution it seems finally that Curran has found material that matches his sensibilities displaying a quality turn behind the camera in the direction of his actors, his material, his landscape and even his camels. The film overwhelmingly screams quality and in trying production conditions this is quite some feat.
You wouldn’t say that Tracks is an inspiring film in that traditional sense but it’s a film worthy of much of the respect and critical love it received upon release thanks to a fine turn from the wise beyond her years Wasikowska and the strong directional turn from Curran. Tracks may not be an entertainment driven watch but it’s a trek of the highest calibre that uses the natural beauty of Australia’s harshest land to amazing affect.
4 frothy camels out of 5