This outstanding, beautifully acted and directed film based on the true trek Robyn Davidson (b.1950) accomplished in 1977; 1,700 miles, nine months, through the treacherous, torturous, glorious landscape of Australia’s western desert to the Indian Ocean; Ms. Davidson wrote about her excursion in a 1980 memoir; Mia Wasikowska is remarkable as the recalcitrant, intrepid, fearless young woman whose intransigence led to fame, wonder and the unshackling of a woman’s role in a male-programmed society; her journey-mates, four camels and a dog are all the comfort she needed or cared about; her relationships with the human species, tenuous at best.
Director John Curran allows the narrative to flow serenely, naturally, capturing the intense training of the camels; Robyn’s empathy with the beasts; her financial travesties which led to National Geographic Magazine supporting her improbable pilgrimage; her lust for solitude romantically interrupted by photographer Rick Smolan (delightful, admirable depiction by Adam Driver); her path intersects with the indigenous peoples of Australia, with reverence and respect she earns their desperately needed aid. Massive, stunning cinematography illuminates, lays bare Australia’s tranquility, godlike serenity, unforgiving dust storms, and the constant, ubiquitous, unrelenting flies; the actors fortitude had to be profoundly tested.
“Tracks” at its core is about “why”; why would anyone, especially a woman, willingly embark on a supremely perilous, life -threatening odyssey? The joy of the film is that the question is not verbally expressed, just deeds; Robyn Davidson did it simply because she wanted to; she craved the vastness, solitude; the hush-less, starry nights; the absence of contemporary strapping’s; relying solely on the vital tools of survival. In this age of constant-connectedness (where tables are lined with cell phones) pockets, purses perpetually vibrating; monumentally refreshing to watch someone who actually stopped the world and got off!