This truly was an indie weekend, as three of the four films viewed these last 2 days were assuredly in this genre. And this weekend, that proved to be a good thing all around, as every one was a quality effort. And…this film was the 75th release of 2014 for me to date. So, all of that stated, I move directly on and present to you….”Tracks”.
SEE THE TRAILER HERE
Directed by John Curran (“Stone“, “We Don’t Live Here Anymore“) and based on the true account and book written by Robyn Davidson, the story initially starts in 1975, Alice Springs, Central Australia, where a young woman, Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) has made a choice to take a trek westward across the Australian desert to the ocean alone, having grown tired of city life, and needing the chance to just “be”. Requiring the use of some of the country’s wild camels, Davidson trains with a camel wrangler for 2 years, while also making the choice to live as “outside the norm” as she can, in order to begin to experience the freedom of the journey ahead. Ultimately NOT getting the camels she was promised by the wrangler, she also comes up short on funds needed to get supplies, etc. But, in writing to National Geographic magazine explaining her intentions, a sponsorship is granted, the only caveat being one of their photographers, Rick Smolan (Adam Driver), whom she had actually met earlier among a group of friends who come to visit her before she leaves on the trek, is to accompany her along the way. We move to April 9th 1977, and Robyn, along with her 4 camels Dookie, Bub, Zeleika, and baby Goliath plus her faithful dog Diggity head off into the Aussie desert. Along the way, Rick pops up to shoot pictures for the magazine, even though Robyn begins to resent the fact since the journey was to be hers alone. Learning to deal with Rick, we periodically see their encounters as he appears every 6 weeks or so to shoot more pictures. Also along the way, we are privy via flashbacks to Robyn’s childhood and some of the hard times she had faced when younger. The further she travels, various encounters with locals and fans of her efforts become somewhat frequent, but this does not stop her from also having LONG stretches of time alone, to contemplate and to just be herself, all while also having to fight the elements and other harsh realities of the Australian outback. But as the months pass, and Rick still remains a constant in the trip, Robyn finds it within herself to test the depths of her own resolve to accomplish what she set out to do and along with way have an even greater realization OF the person she is growing up to be. And all of this leads to an amazing overall journey of self-discovery and what it is to truly leave things behind you, and that it can bring inspiration to not JUST herself, but to the world. Further details would be considered spoilers and I remain with my choice to NOT provide ANY of those for you.
I have said it before, and I must say it again…I just LOVE true-story based films. SO often, they are exactly what this film was….inspiring. The sheer thought of even DOING a 1700-mile trip, ALONE, across the DESERT with nothing but 4 camels, a dog, supplies, and your own fortitude and desire to just DO something that challenges you and takes you on a journey to know more about yourself…honestly…WOW. And as you would imagine, this WASN’T an easy journey for Davidson to undertake, given all of the harsh conditions she would knowingly face in the Outback. Much less to maintain control over 4 feral camels plus a loyal companion in her dog, Diggity. And yet, Davidson DID exactly that. And to see this travel visualized as it was…just incredible. Visually, the film is a marvel of simplicity in depicting the burning heat and cool nights of the desert in Western Australia, and the cinematography is gorgeous, giving us sweeping shots of this sandy wasteland and actually making it INVITING! Of course, the real winner here is Wasikowska as Davidson. There was something completely ethereal and engaging about her performance. Wasikowska brought what indie film characters need to have…realistic portrayal and delivery of their subject, and she simply shined as this woman on a mission, as someone who made a choice, went with it, defying a LOT of odds and doubters, ALONE, yet finding support along the way as well. And just the way Wasikowska made the release and freedom in Davidson come through, you were THERE with her every step of the way. You FELT the journey with its triumphs, its losses, it’s frustrations, and its ultimate victory. Adam Driver was a good fit to play Smolan, as he also brought a sense of purpose and reality to the character. And of course, we have to give kudos to the camels and dog in the film as well! They actually played such an integral part in Davidson’s travels that seeing it portrayed like this was inspiring in itself. But when it all comes down to it, this is about the triumph of the human spirit….the chance to show the world what a person IS capable of, no matter WHAT the obstacles may be that try to hinder the efforts. Davidson most definitely defied the odds in taking on this journey, and likewise, the IMPACT of that was felt fully in Wasikowska’s performance here.
As always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!