Tracks (Mia Wasikowska) - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
THE true story behind Robyn Davidson’s decision to cross the Outback desert in 1977 with just four camels for company remains something of a mystery even to the woman who did it. “Why not?” continues to be her answer along with a continued feeling that the question may have been asked differently – if at all – is she was a man.
Nevertheless, the undertaking of the quest remains a risky thing to do no matter what gender or age. As one character correctly notes, “you don’t have to be unlucky to die out there”.
Given the continued reticence surrounding her motivation, it’s a tribute to both director John Curran and Mia Wasikowska, the actress playing her, that the film of her story is such a fully developed and emotionally compelling affair.
Tracks, based on Davidson’s book of the same name, is as visually inspiring as you would hope for a film shot in the Outback but it also takes you on a fascinating personal journey that’s both spiritual and cultural.
For although Davidson sought nothing more simple than to wallow in the isolation she craves, her subsequent 1,700-mile, 9-month trek saw her come of age. Head-strong and naive at the outset, she became a mature, more socially aware – if still not people friendly – person by journey’s end. And, in particular, she found herself spiritually connected to the land and it’s indigenous people, the Aboriginals, without whose support – even at a time of great political unease – she may not have survived.
Wasikowska captures all of this in majestic fashion. Already a brilliant actress, she now looks certain to become a screen great. There’s a grace to her performance that feels effortless; a fragility that endears and a stubbornness and resolve to get stuck in (especially when bonding with her camels) that’s inspiring. She is both amusing and heartbreaking and this is especially impressive given she has to carry most of the film on her own.
There is support. Her four camels and beloved dog, Diggity, bring their own personality to the mix, ensuring you care equally for them, while Adam Driver is good value as Davidson’s official photographer, who drifts in and out of proceedings to offer all kinds of support no matter how much his presence irritates her. It’s a nuanced performance that is, by turns, comedic, well-meaning and observant.
Special mention must also go to Aboriginal actor Roly Mintuma, whose Eddie also brings a dignified, wholly endearing presence to a key part of the journey.
Curran’s direction, meanwhile, is beautiful to look at and nicely restrained, opting to mostly stay true to Davidson’s book than go for obvious big movie embellishments (which many previous directors have tried to do with the material).
With Wasikowska’s help, he ensures that the film remains grounded in reality – and is both as respectful and celebratory of the human spirit as it is the natural world, while acknowledging the flaws and dangers inherent in both.
Running time: 112mins
UK Release Date: April 25, 2014