Spiritual journeys are the usual basis for many a movie. Everyone at some point or another asks the important questions and seeks the answers that usually can’t be answered. That quest for knowledge is what keeps us going and it normally provides for some rather thrilling cinema. Tracks is the true story of one such person, a young woman who basically picks up and ventures out where it is basically only her facing the sometimes harsh elements of nature and the darkness of the great unknown.
Tracks follows Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska), a 20-something woman who in 1977, decided to trek 1,700 miles across the West Australian desert with four camels and her trusted dog. Her reasons for this adventure are simple and they are that she wants some peace and quiet, some alone time to clear her head and possibly discover new things about herself. Along the way, she gains the interest of Rick Smolan (Adam Driver), a National Geographic photographer who documents her trip. Together these two create quite the story and inspire adventurers everywhere both young and not so young.
The sprawling landscape of the Australian desert is photographed exceptionally well in Tracks. Cinematographer Mandy Walker (Australia, Red Riding Hood) has really outdone herself, having caught the absolute beauty of the country and placing a strong emphasis on Mother Nature and her effects on Davidson. You can even almost say that Australia is a character itself. Davidson adapts to her surroundings throughout the film and her toughness and resilience are firmly established right from the beginning. She is a strong woman, both mentally and physically and she lets everyone know it especially Smolan, who is documenting many of her moves.
Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, Stoker) is extraordinary in Tracks. She fully embodies the role of real-life adventurer Robyn Davidson and it is a true pleasure to watch. I’d even go so far as to say that her performance is Oscar-worthy. She’s that good and you actually believe that what is unfolding on screen is really happening. At 24 years of age, she has the maturity and the strength of, dare I say, a young Meryl Streep. Adam Driver (Girls, Inside Llewyn Davis) also gives a strong performance and it is quite obvious that he, himself, is a young rising star.
Tracks is a visually stunning piece of cinema and the entire production team should be commended for their efforts. Director John Curran (The Painted Veil, Stone) is no stranger to the art of filmmaking and Tracks is yet another entry in the man’s resume. At 112 minutes, Tracks does meander here and there but it’s all in the good name of powerful moviemaking, showcasing the gorgeous Australian terrain. Much of the film shows Davidson hiking across the desert with her four-legged companions sticking by her every step of the way. If you think about it, there really isn’t too much of a point to this movie. It’s just about a woman pressing on, not really caring about anyone or anything. The imagery is profound and the performances, outstanding. Tracks is definitely one film to consider come award season.
Tracks will have a limited theatrical release on September 19th, 2014