Tracks (London Film Festival 2013)
The Australian wilderness is magnificent on the Odeon West End’s screen, with sun rays stretching across the corners. Shooting in such a beautiful, deserted area means the set is never-ending, according to John Curran in the following Q&A. It’s worth noting that Tracks is based on a 1978 book of the same name, so a film adaptation had to be visually stunning to justify its existence – and it does.
Tracks is the 2,700km journey undertaken across Australia by Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska), amid sweltering heat and thirsty conditions. She embarks on foot with a dog and a few camels. The lonely journey is an impressive nine-month saga, occasionally interrupted by fleeting visits from a National Geographic photographer (Adam Driver).
Robyn’s reasons aren’t clear, but I didn’t doubt those intentions exist, even if she isn’t so sure herself. Wasikowska’s role is tricky, in that she has to be on the verge of death, emote through the repetition, while marvelling at the beautiful surroundings – all through physical motions.
If Tracks is in danger of being an expensive production of someone’s gap year stories, the cinematography and central performance win it, through charm and persistence. Surprisingly, the film falters when its ambitions include jagged subplots, such as intrusive photographers and flashbacks. The absence of motive will likely infuriate others, but I was bowled over by the spectacle of a woman who abandons everything to wander and camp in her thoughts.
Tracks is part of the London Film Festival’s “Official Competition” strand. More information can be found here.
110 mins approx