Tracks John Curran

Tracks John Curran
8
Robyn Davidson's journey across the Australian desert to the Indian Ocean is a remarkable feat. Taking the audience along the arduous 1,700 miles trek in a film based on Davidson's memoir is another altogether. Tracks is a stunning adventure from beginning to end.

Mia Wasikowska is brilliant in the role of Robyn Davidson in this screen adaptation directed by John Curran. A loner by nature, the adventure makes little sense to those around her. Many tell her she won't survive, while others ask why she's doing it. And though at times the answer seems unclear to Davidson herself, she simply says, "I just want to be by myself."

Davidson is determined. Traveling by foot with few belongings and a loyal dog for company, she tries to obtain camels for her journey. Going through two years of laborious tasks with minimal pay, she even turns to National Geographic to help fund her trip in exchange for a published feature, despite her original plans.

Through highlighting the struggles of a traveler who yearns for time to herself, it becomes more and more clear throughout the film that the support of others is exactly what she needs in order to finish her trip. Though tourists call her "the camel lady," she finds unlikely companions from all walks of life along her journey.

The great supporting cast of characters who end up helping the film's protagonist along the way add plenty of colour: Roly Mintuma is incredibly sweet as the Aboriginal elder who accompanies Davidson through sacred grounds, while Adam Driver plays the annoying yet good-hearted Rick Smolan, the National Geographic photographer who meets with Davidson three times throughout her trip, to great effect. Even the animals come across as endearing, with personalities of their own. The camels — Dookie, Bubs, Zelly and Goliath — are calm yet sassy, roaring in disapproval when things don't go their way. Add in Davidson's devoted Labrador Retriever, Diggity, and the animals prove to be the perfect complement to her cinematic journey.

Though what ultimately makes Tracks shine is Wasikowska's acting. Arguably her strongest role to date, her understated performance is what makes this film so special. As her body becomes withered and dry like the Australian outback, her willpower to finish what she started is truly inspirational to watch.

(Mongrel Media)