I would usually avoid the word endearing in a film review but this time around it clearly suits my purpose. Tracks, a film directed by John Curran, covers the extraordinary trek by Robyn Davidson (played by Mia Wasikowska) across the Australian desert. Now, that may not be the best little synopsis for an enjoyable viewing experience but I assure you that this is not only endearing but inspiring (ooh there is another blasphemy sorry).
The film is based on the book of the same name written by Davidson herself, and details her 2700km journey from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean. The film is set in the 1970’s which portrays a world in which bohemia has hit the mainstream of and the tide of the hippie dream already half way out.
Robyn Davidson is introduced to us as an escapee fleeing the rise of bland consumerism and misplaced idealism to find some camels and embark on her journey. Davidson’s plan for her trek is revealed rather early and we are given some peripheral characters to keep the intrigue flowing. However, it is her four legged friends that steal the nods to the supporting cast. In short, with trained camels in tow Davidson sets out on her journey along with her dog Diggity and some unwelcome attention from a National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan (Adam Driver).
At first I thought that, like Davidson’s trek, this film was going nowhere. I was wrong. The story is fantastic and serves as a wakeup call to those who are hitting dead ends in life and need something to slap them in the face. There is sadness, beauty and frustration amid the desolation of the Australian desert, and this hammers home the reality of our individual loneliness. Alas, do not despair there is a bit of a love story but this does not compromise the intricacies of the film and helps paint a clearer picture of Davison’s persona. Head along if you like a motivational true story but be careful if you are a sucker for sad animal scenes.
Reviewed by Ben Blackman