Mia Wasikowska, one of the great young actors of our time, returns to her home country of Australia in a perfect performance as Robyn Davidson, a young city woman who walked across 2000 miles of the Australian outback in 1977 with only four camels and a dog for company.
Why was Davidson so determined to take on this lonely adventure? The answers provided aren’t too clear, but she wants to get away from society, she wants to be alone and she wants to do something that is well beyond society’s expectations for a young woman.
In order to afford the seven-month trek, Davidson needs sponsorship from National Geographic, which comes with the condition that she allow a photographer to take photos of her at various points along her route. Davidson detests the intrusion into what she viewed as a one-woman-alone adventure, especially when the photographer (played well by Adam Driver) shows a lack of sensitivity to the Aboriginal people they encounter en route, but she has no choice. In the end, they become good friends, but she still groans almost every time he shows up.
Employing different styles throughout, Tracks is a haunting beautiful film about a woman who seems to be running away from all kinds of inner demons related to her traumatic childhood. While sometimes distracting, the flashbacks are kept to a minimum, with the focus being on the various setbacks and challenges Davidson faces on her walk across the Outback (including the hounding presence of tourists and reporters, who want a glimpse of the crazy ‘camel lady’).
Tracks, which is directed by John Curran, uses some of these challenges to expose the racism and misogyny of the time, though one could question whether the making of the film is not in itself part of the media frenzy. In any event, Tracks gets a solid ***+. My mug is up.