Robyn Davidson: Some nomads are at home everywhere. There are others who are home nowhere. I am one of those.
If I recommended you see a movie in which Mia Wasikowska treks across the Australian desert with camels for two hours, you would probably lose all faith in my abilities as a critic, but I’m going to do so all the same. John Curran’s TRACKS may not sound like much on paper but to behold this one woman’s journey and all the struggles, both external and internal, that come along with it is not only visually captivating but emotionally as well. This is in great part thanks to the amazing true story that inspired this film but it is in even great part thanks to the mesmerizing performance Wasikowska gives. She holds nothing back and makes the desert a plentiful place.
When writer, Robyn Davidson (played by Wasikowska in the film) embarked on her journey in 1977, many through the was crazy. They called her the camel lady and, her story garnered international awareness, some even came to gawk at her as she passed through their town. The truth of the matter is that they stared because they didn’t understand. They didn’t understand why a young woman would walk away from society to walk for 1700 miles. To some extent, this same fascination exists in us as the audience to this film. We too want to know why, perhaps because it is so far removed from our own lives and perhaps because there is a secret part in all of us who also wants to walk away from life and get lost in nature. Fortunately for us, we are privy to Davidson’s thoughts (the film is adapted from the novel she wrote after her experience). The trick though is that when she sets foot in the desert, she doesn’t quite know why she is doing it either. She knows subconsciously but her journey is what allows her to see precisely what she is trying to get so much distance from in the first place.
A funny thing happens while we join Wasikowska on her exploration. We too end up feeling somewhat secluded from the rest of the world and we too are left alone with out thoughts, just as she was. As she thinks aloud about her life, her family and what it means to be a part of something and connect with other human beings, her thoughts and musings sit heavily with the viewer. As she encounters people along the way who have spent years apart from society, we are exposed to perspectives and ideas about life that we may never have considered before. The experience that is TRACKS is quite liberating and the best part is that she does all the walking for us so we can just sit back and enjoy the view.