In 1977, Robyn Davidson made the audacious decision to trek across 2,700 miles of Australian desert with just four camels, a dog and an occasional visit from a photographer for company. After the screening, the real Robyn Davidson commented that if she was a man, her accomplishment would not be treated with the same sort of disbelief, although surely anyone setting out for such an ordeal must be a little mad?
Tracks gives a partial sense of the vastness and desolation of the terrain and certainly the universal accomplishment of Davidson’s conquer over nature, conveyed through some magnificent scenery. Director John Curran struggles more in displaying the internal, mental ordeal of Davidson’s expedition which prevents the film from getting underneath its adventurer’s incredible desire to explore and conquer. Tracks feels remarkably lethargic considering the undoubted physicality of the trip. Curran recognises the elegance of the landscapes with a sort of postcard gentleness but doesn’t really give them the vibrancy or energy necessary. The desert looks huge but doesn’t feel terrifying. Mia Wasikowska has a healthy supply of pleasant clothing and doesn’t seem to be cracking much of a sweat considering what must be unbearable heat. Adam Driver comes in and out of the film as a National Geographic photographer and in her solace, she finds companionship with Driver but it all feels disappointingly whimsical, particularly as Driver is known for forming such an intense screen presence as Lena Dunham boyfriend in Girls. To its credit, Tracks avoids much of the cliché and cheesiness you might expect from man-conquering-nature stories but it doesn’t replace those tropes with enough substance and physicality, making it feel long and not nearly engaging enough.
Tracks is out on 25th April in the UK and 23rd April in the US. Running time 112 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).
Review by David Rank