Who knew camels could be so telegenic?
A trio of these dromedaries stars alongside Mia Wasikowska, as they serve to help her curious, restless woman who has set out to traverse the Australian desert. Based on a true story, she is Robyn Davison, who in 1977 took travel the country, with some monetary help from National Geographic, and all alone save for her camels, her dog, and the occasional visit by a loquacious photographer.
More beautiful than daunting, more straightforward than dramatic, her 2,700 kilometer trek is strangely about confronting her lonely existence rather than overcoming nature. It is a hot, sweaty experience, one that puts the viewer close alongside the intrepid hiker. For all the time spent together, we still know little about her; only she loves her dog, has an affinity for camels, and prefers their company over that of people.
The Australian-born Wasikowska, who looks spectacularly like the real life Davison, assumes a difficult role and triumphs. She is a mesmerizing presence, and seems to be popping up in curious roles so often of late, and she without question has the uncanny and coveted ability to convey so much with so little, and carry the audience through what is often quiet and desolate landscapes. She is fierce and vulnerable, foreign and familiar.
She isn’t particularly searching for meaning or lashing out. Davison has family and friends that care for her, though they don’t seem to be especially concerned of her journey. There is also a doting photog (Adam Driver) who is as much interested in promoting his own career as he is for her safety. When he arrives, Tracks takes a different path, and becoming this awkward and cute romance that can distract from the rest of the film.
It’s an intriguing journey, fascinating more for the interactions between Robyn and her furry companions. Were it not for them, Tracks loses a part of its most compelling component. Because of the familiar romance, these creatures provide something particularly novel on screen, especially against a beautiful backdrop. There is plenty to behold with Tracks, but less to contemplate – it’s just the desert, after all.