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Tracks—Movie Review

Tracks-Mia Wasikowska-680It’s taken a full year for Tracks to make its way from the film festival circuit to theaters,
but this movie was worth waiting for. John Curran directed the Australian
production, based on the real-life story of Robyn Davidson, who made a 2,000
mile trek across the Australian desert with three camels, back in 1975. She was
sponsored by National Geographic and
the response to her article in the magazine prompted her to write a book, which
became a best-seller.

The movie tells us, early on, “Some nomads are happy
wherever they wander, some nomads can never find happiness.” Davidson is one of
the latter, and Mia Wasikowska is a perfect choice to play her, embodying both
her feistiness and her vulnerability. She has trouble relating to people and,
not surprisingly, her closest companion is a dog named Diggity, who figures in
one of the film’s most dramatic episodes. Wasikowska has one of those faces I
never tire of watching; she can register a wide range of emotions without
resorting to histrionics, and earns our empathy in spite of her often
antisocial behavior. 

Tracks is a story
of survival, perseverance, and self-discovery. It begins with Davidson’s efforts
to find, acquire, and train the camels. Then, as she embarks upon her trek, she
is forced to deal with a somewhat obnoxious, self-absorbed photographer (Adam
Driver) who’s been assigned to cover her story for Geographic. In an effort to compromise, he finally agrees not to
accompany her, but to meet up at various stages along her journey.

Marion Nelson’s screenplay succeeds in portraying a
difficult character in a sympathetic light. Mandy Walker’s cinematography makes
great use of the wide screen, and Garth Stevenson’s score provides excellent
support. Director Curran (who made another film I admire, The Painted Veil) does a fine job orchestrating all of these
elements for a film that has lingered in my memory.

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