Director: John Curran
Running Time: 106 min
Year of Release: 2013
When Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) voiced her plans to travel across the Australian desert by foot, accompanied by four camels and her loyal dog, Diggity, she was met with disbelief. Friends and family were worried for her. Strangers doubted her ability to complete the trip – “you must be mad girly.” Despite their pessimism, she spends several long months training camels and quietly preparing herself for the journey ahead. Tracks is directed by John Curran and is based on Robyn Davidson’s memoir of the same name, detailing her gruelling trek from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean.
Davidson only had one condition for the trip. She wanted to complete the journey alone. However, a lack of funds made this more difficult than expected. National Geographic offered to provide her with a sponsorship if she allowed American photographer Rick Smolan (Adam Driver) to take photographs of her at various points in her journey, which would later be published in the popular magazine. Realising that this may be the only way to finance her trip, she reluctantly accepts. Their relationship is fraught at first, but as she delves further and further into the vast and empty landscape, he becomes a friend; someone with whom she is willing to share parts of her journey.
The cinematography in the film is absolutely breathtaking. Mandy Walker, the director of photography, does a spectacular job of presenting the Australian desert as a place that is both harsh and unyielding, but ultimately, extremely beautiful. Accompanied by the atmospheric score composed by Garth Stevenson, viewing the film on the big screen is an immersive experience.
The film is also filled with strong performances. Of note is Mia Wasikowska’s portrayal of Robyn Davidson. Wasikowska has always been a subtle performer, and in Tracks she gives an instinctive performance, deftly conveying the many highs and lows that Davidson encountered over the course of her trip. From utter exhaustion, to elation at making progress, to the stifling frustration she experienced when she doubted herself and contemplated her motivation for trekking across the desert in the first place.
At the start of the film, Davidson narrates, “I’d like to think an ordinary person is capable of anything.” In the film, Davidson’s primary reason for embarking on the journey was to see if it was possible, to see if she could. Faced with the unpredictable nature of the Australian desert, difficult decisions, and at times, her own loneliness, this incredible story of an ordinary woman’s bravery and perseverance makes Tracks worth watching.
Tracks opens Thursday 6 March at Luna Leederville and Luna on SX.