Film Review – Tracks (2013)

In 1975 I was born taking my first steps in the big adventure called life. This was also the year a young woman embarked on an ambitious journey to trek across the barren Australian Outback with only 4 camels (and her dog) to keep her company. Tracks is based on the true life story of Robyn Davidson (played by Mia Wasikowska), 27 year old woman who embarked on an extraordinary ambitious trek from Alice Springs across 2000 miles of barren inhospitable terrain the Australian Outback. With only her dog Diggity and 4 wild camels the journey was on foot, a journey that was to take over 6 months to complete it was an endurance test of character, a strength of will even for the hardened experienced adventurer.To achieve the unthinkable journey Robyn must find funding and petitions National Geographic, they agree to bankroll her but with one condition that American photographer Rick Smolan (Adam Driver) records her journey.

Tracks in the words of famous TV Pundit Alan Hansen, its a film of 2 halves. The first half of the film is all about Robyn’s preparations for the journey, discovering how hard things will be but also sets up the tone of the decade. Sexism, racism (Aboriginal) where rife most of all life was hard for everyone some what backwards, whilst barriers where thrown at Robyn her determination shines pushing her to succeed. She also learns the hard way even her desert dwelling friends need training but did she embark on this journey,’Why not?‘ Davidson replies.

The second half of the film we do get offered some clues to why she’s such a loner, with childhood traumas but as the film progresses you start to wonder if there was something deeper going on. There is another suggestion in one flashback though you are still left in the dark for the true reasons. If anything you get the impression its actually a combination of several and a young woman empowered to conquer sexism and tired of human company.

Whatever you think of Tracks there is no denying it’s a stunningly beautiful film capturing the beauty and danger with great precision. Whilst admiring the beauty of Australian Outback thanks to cinematographer Mandy Walker you get a real sense of the horrors that lie ahead if she made one false move.If it was solitude Robyn desired she was in the right place for it as you can’t get more remote than The Outback. Throughout the film you get to see how much solace meant to her until Rick arrives snapping her every move annoying her though her hatred for fellow humans looking for the elusive photograph opportunity of ‘the camel lady’ invading her privacy treating her like a ‘freak show’.

The stumbling block of the film is its tendency to be too over sentimental but largely thanks to Mia Wasikowska she delivers a captivating performance making the film a worthwhile watch. Her performance is steeped in confidence she holds her own from start to finish highlighting Robyn’s self determination and indecisive nature.

Tracks has been a film project which was stuck in project hell for a very long time, that long Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts were once connected to Robyn’s role but was the wait worth it? On the terms of leading lady Wasikowska fits the role perfectly but nearly ruined thanks to the over-sentimentality a weak written first half . This is a film that sits nicely in between Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout (1971) and Sean Penn’s Into The Wild (2007) however those films don’t have a young 4 legged star called Goliath.

★★★1/2|Paul Devine

Drama, True Story |Australia, 2014 | 15 |25th April 2014 (UK)|eOne UK |Dir:John Curran | Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Emma Booth, John Flaus

Originally Posted at The Peoples Movies | 24th April 2014

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