TIFF 2013: John Curran's 'Tracks' is a Beautiful Australian Journey
by Alex Billington
September 11, 2013
What a beautiful, beautiful film. That's the best way to put it. And that's the first thought that came to mind and stayed at the forefront of my thoughts while I was watching this. The film Tracks, directed by John Curran, and follows the real-life story of Australian naturalist Robyn Davidson, who crossed 1,700 miles of the Australia Outback by foot by herself in 1977. Her journey was documented and published in National Geographic and this film gives us a dramatic recreation of it, following Robyn and her sunburned trip with three camels. Watch it is like floating through a beautiful dream journeying across the Australian Outback.
Curran's Tracks, from a screenplay by Marion Nelson, stars the wonderfully talented Mia Wasikowska as Robyn Davidson, who was 27 at the time she decided to cross the outback. The film opens spending some time with her as she figures out her plans and decides to take the journey, then spends the remaining 2/3 following her across the Outback. She scraps up what little money she has in order to get three camels that will accompany her on the journey. From the very start I knew I would end up lost in this film, mesmerized by the gorgeous cinematography, the alluring and lovely score, and the captivating story of this survivalist.
This film is the third this year about survival and an individual overcoming the harsh realities of nature to persist and live on (the other two are J.C. Chandor's All is Lost on the water and Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity in space). This one doesn't tread the same territory as those other two, and features a slightly bigger cast than just one or two stars. Adam Driver joins her on the journey a few times as a photographer, and a charming aboriginal man accompanies her part of the way, too. She also has an adorable dog that follows her and the camels throughout the entire trip and helps add an additional layer of compassion to the story.
Maybe it was just the mood I was in at the time, maybe it was just the magnificently beautiful way the story was told, but watching Tracks is truly like drifting through a dream. My only issues with the film stem from the fact that the story itself isn't told in a smooth way, it jumps around often and we only get to see the most interesting bits and pieces of her journey. Instead of telling a solidly linear story like All is Lost or Gravity, it focuses on the character and her most defining moments. This isn't a bad choice, it's just one that left me wanting more in some spots, less in others. Mia Wasikowska, as always, delivers an impeccable performance and carries the film on her shoulders. The score alone will last with me, and the film overall is just sublime.
Alex's TIFF 2013 Rating: 8.5 out of 10
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