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| 6 February 2014 | Reply

Directed by John Curran
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Tracks movie poster

All of us need a little downtime, but a few hours away from our mobile phones and laptops, or a week on a beach somewhere is usually enough.

Not Robyn Davidson. In 1975 she upped stumps, left her family and went to Alice Springs determined to trek to the Indian Ocean with her beloved best friend, a dog named Diggity and a few camels.

A true story, Davidson took a couple of years in and around Alice to learn how to train and run camels, suffering ripoffs and setbacks, but true to her word, she set off on her nearly 2000 mile journey despite family, friends and strangers all trying their best to talk her out of it.

A wholly remarkable and tenacious woman – if somewhat estranged from humanity – Davidson has turned her back on society, and we get snippets to see why – her mother committed suicide, her father wasn’t communicative – but nothing definitive. Perhaps she was just anti-social?.

The cinematography perfectly captures the stark solitude of the vast Australian outback, which of course mirrors Davidson’s personality.

Realising she cannot undertake her journey without financial help, she reluctantly reaches out to National Geographic Magazine for sponsorship. As if the conflict of her tackling the country and her sometimes reluctant four camels wasn’t enough, now she has to tackle something which is wholly harder for her: photographer Rick Smolan’s regular interjections, jibber jabber, and what she sees as unfair demands to pose rather than just document her expedition. Mia Wasikowska plays her very well, showing her distaste at being around chatterboxes and, indeed, people in general.

Despite herself, this is a journey of discovery, and Davidson realises that even she needs the occasional flash of personal contact – even physical intimacy. She learns strength she never knew, she confronts her past, and she rises above challenge after challenge in rousing fashion.

She also discovers kindness and unexpected companionship in the most unexpected places.

Tim Rogers shines in a gentle desert cameo, and Roly Mintuma’s Aboriginal elder Eddie steals every scene he is in with a wonderfully naturalistic performance.

There’s sadness, which I won’t spoil here, and triumph through this insane trip which anyone – then, as now – would be lucky to survive. We’re going to have to go buy the book now as I am eager to find out what happened to Robyn Davidson between her 1977 trek and now.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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