A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Based on the true story and memoirs of Robyn Davidson, a determined, ambitious young woman who embarked on an epic, perilous journey, 1,700 miles across the barren and vast Australian desert; 2013’s “Tracks” attempts to recreate the events of this incredible odyssey, and to an extent it works.
Accompanied by 4 camels and her loyal dog Diggity, Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) undertakes a near-impossible trek, starting from deep Western Australia and concluding at the Indian Ocean, passing via Uluru. She faces endless desert, extreme heat and loneliness whilst on her journey, and that’s only the beginning.
As there wasn’t a preconceived understanding of the story having not read the book, “Tracks” was seen as an original film, not an adaptation of a memoir. “Tracks” was quite dull and uninspiring; the story itself however sounds like a truly extraordinary one. Having not read the source material to begin with, it seemed like a reasonably simple story to adapt into a film. However this sort of adventure story appeared to only moderately translate onto the screen, thus seeming to unsuccessfully do the book justice.
Cinematic features that worked included the numerous wide shots of the desert, establishing just how isolated Davidson is. There was a mix of grounded wide angle shots and a few beautifully utilised birds-eye view shots that looked like they were taken straight from an Australian tourism advertisement. Having said that, it’s not like “Tracks” dampens the hardship and struggle of Davidson, if anything it shows the gritty and testing side of such an odyssey.
The beautiful and stunning imagery of the Australian outback does convey a spiritual atmosphere and a sense of a dream-like universe. The cinematography is of a high quality and is definitely the high point of the film from a technical point of view. Another strong and notable point taken from the film includes the frighteningly dark situations Robyn finds herself in and the professionally layered editing structure really added to the tension. The way Robyn’s journey and peace of mind gradually crumble and the hardships take their toll, editing techniques with a strong focus on sound add double the amount of emotion Wasikowska does.
Cinematic features that didn’t work include the obvious use of green screen close up shots scattered throughout the film. It was obvious they were being used as the lighting, exposure and contrast was completely different. It seemed lazy and almost as if they needed to reshot to fill in gaps.
The standout performer was Adam Driver as Rick Smolan, a National Geographic photographer documenting Robyn’s adventure. His awkward, kind and goofy personality really resonated, given the seriousness of the film. His acting ability contrasted with the blandness of Wasikowsa’s effort only added to the appreciation of his performance.
It seemed as if it summed itself up far too quickly and the journey was too fast all in all. Robyn’s motivation for embarking on the walk to begin with were never explained and the buildup to the beginning of the walk seemed all too long.
There was one surprise from the film, and that was the camels. Never will camels have the same friendly and loveable appeal they once did. The viciousness and rampaging nature of the camel is exhibited strongly in “Tracks”, which is shocking and definitely surprising.
A brilliant story but a disappointing film, “Tracks” definitely had its moments and was technically crafted at a high level. The poor progression of the screenplay and the dissatisfying acting from the protagonist let the film down, even the camels even out-acted Mia Wasikowska…