Directed by John Curran.
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Emma Booth, Rainer Bock and Roly Mintuma.
A young woman goes on a 1,700 mile trek across the deserts of West Australia with her four camels and faithful dog.
With its startling images and wonderful orange landscape, Tracks certainly is a beautiful looking piece of cinema. Capturing both the wonder and solitude of the Australian desert, the film follows young Australian Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska), who decides to leave the norm of regular life behind to trek across the Australian desert, some 1,700 miles, in search of nothing but some peace and quiet. With just the clothes and resources on her back, and a group of camels, Robyn sets off on her journey.
While not doing anything wholly original, nor indeed “treading” new ground, Tracks brings a compelling story of one woman’s need for solitude and of trying to find herself. Robyn isn’t running away from anyone or anything, nor is she trying to defeat her demons by taking on the desert’s harsh realities, she just wants the ability to be alone, with nature and herself, as she tries to figure out which path to take. Its eluded to that her mother passed away, but even that is not the trigger for her pursuit, nor is it happiness she is trying to find, its just simply a quest for time well spent alone.
Director Curran (We Don’t Live Here Anymore) does nothing spectacular here, but makes the smart decision to just let the images speak for themselves, letting them breathe through the screen and washing over us. It almost as if you can feel the harsh winds, sweltering heat and coarse sand between your feet, just as Robyn is feeling them too. In fact, the film serves as a wonderful travelogue of the Australian desert and its surrounding areas, and will certainly have you grabbing for the mobile device and Google maps to follow her route.
As beautiful as the film is however, the true star here is Wasikowska. The actress has certainly been given her fair share of accolades over the years since her big break in the otherwise bland Alice in Wonderland reboot, but here she truly comes into her own, and reaffirms her position as one of the top young actresses working today. Her performance here is remarkable, and shows not only tremendous range, but also an ever-growing maturity beyond her still young years, and with her performance in Richard Ayoade’s brilliant The Double and the upcoming Maps to the Stars with David Cronenberg, it certainly has been a year to remember.
Alongside her is another star that is soon to “make it big” in Hollywood is Adam Driver, Star Wars: Episode VII‘s rumoured villain. His work on Girls has been well documented, but it’s his performances in some smaller indie films (Frances Ha, this week’s What If) that have got many talking. His gangly frame makes him look like an overpowering presence, but such is his warmth and humour that he rarely hits a bum note, and here he continues his ascension into the upper echelons of Hollywood’s lists.
While its unoriginality and slightly overlong run time may put some off, Tracks is a luscious, beautiful journey that is one of 2014’s hidden gems. Shot with impeccable detail by director Curran and his DoP Mandy Walker the film is one wonderful journey through the Australian desert, anchored by another superb turn from Wasikowska.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★