Tracks: Movie Review
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Camels, The Outback
Director: John Curran
Based on the memoir by Robyn Davidson, this is the sixth attempt to make a film of her 1,700 mile trek across the deserts of Western Australia, with nothing more than a few camels and a faithful dog ( as well as some demons from her past)
Wasikowska stars as Davidson, a woman whose dogged determination to get what she wants is clear from the start; she detests the company of other humans, preferring to connect with just her lab Diggity and the camels she's so desperate to claim as her own.
But when Davidson pitches her idea of the trek to National Geographic to get some money, she ends up being saddled for parts of the journey with a photographer called Rick Smolan (Girls' Adam Driver, all big hair, big glasses and goofy one liners), which proves to be an unwanted thorn in her side.
However, she sets off on the trek, with animals in tow - but also, a heap of personal demons to deal with among the crushing distance and weight of personal expectation.
Tracks is a terrifically shot travelogue, a piece which reminds us sometimes the journey is about the journey, rather than just the destination.
Wasikowska's cold Robyn takes a while to warm to (sample line - "Nice people confound me" - she's selfish, yet wildly self-sufficient and reliant only on what's around her in the Aussie outback and her own inner strength to try and complete the journey. She takes on an arc as you'd expect on a journey like this - and Wasikowska is totally spellbinding as she negotiates the highs and lows of the trek, making the exploits of an ordinary person seem nothing short of exceptional and inspirational.
The rapport with Adam Driver's Rick Smolan isn't an easy one and you really end up feeling for the guy as he tries to break down her barriers and destroy her reticence to other human beings. Inter-spliced with flashbacks to Robyn's childhood, Curran effectively dripfeeds the reasons why she's such a cold fish and grounds her in a level of understanding that's relatable.
Sure, there are a few oddballs among the way - but a friendship struck with an Aborigine who speaks only 3 words of English adds an odd level of kinship that's sorely needed as the film progresses on its relatively solo journey.
As you'd expect from this, the cinematography is the star with Curran catching the danger and the beauty of the outback with stunning ease; throw in a couple of cranky camels as well for good measure, a comradeship with a trusty old pooch and you've really got something a little bit special with Tracks.