Tracks is a gorgeous film, with beauty and breathtaking visuals leaking from every frame, but it's more than just that. It feels like you're watching a poem brought to life, written in such an elegant and beautiful way, but look past just the way it's written, and you'll see the beauty underneath, the the meaning of it all. It is a film about isolation, yet also human connection. It's about finding yourself, but more than that, it's about accepting yourself. Working through whatever is bottled up in your head, and getting everything out. And everything is capped off with a very earnest, and very human performance from Mia Wasikowska, who carries the film with a magnetic presence, and she makes you believe in her struggle and makes you root for her cause. The emotion of the film not only lies in the visuals, but also through her performance, which will make you laugh, make you cry and everything in between. That combined with a pitch perfect score accompanying the sprawling scenery is what truly make this film special.
Directed by John Curran, Tracks tells the remarkable true story of Robyn Davidson (Wasikowska), who leaves her life in the city to trek 2,000 miles through the sprawling Australian desert, accompanied by her dog and unpredictable camels. At certain checkpoints she would meet up with a National Geographic photographer (Adam Driver) who photographs the journey.
Throughout the film, Robyn would stop at various rest stops, and here we would meet various people who were very helpful and just offered a helping hand. There was one person in particular who stole the show, and he was an elder who accompanied Robyn for a small portion of the journey. Their relationship was not built on words, but on action. It was a very authentic relationship, where Robyn just needed somebody at that time, to form a connection, and this elder accompanied her, and even though she couldn't understand anything he said, we saw their bond grow through the strength of the acting. It was a very simple, very honest and very real relationship put on display, and it was simply a heartwarming moment to see their relationship grow.
We don't get much backstory on Robyn, which we didn't need, however, there were small glimpses of her former life told through flashback which really added depth and humanity to her character. This wasn't just a woman who wanted to trek the desert just because, but she needed to work things out in her own head, and this was the only conceivable way in which she could accomplish that. Robyn is a character who feels more of a connection to animals than to people. She feels alone, yet wants to be left alone. When the film ends, Robyn doesn't have everything figured out, but she's getting there. This is not a movie that will hold you in suspense over whether she'll make it or not, or whether she'll die on the journey, because it isn't interested in that. Instead, it is more interested in Robyn's journey to form a connection with her own humanity, and it accomplishes its goal.
John Curran and writer Marion Nelson not only gave us a protagonist to root for, but they also developed the animal companions, tot he point that they felt like fully developed characters in their own right. We came to not only root for Robyn, but to also root for these animals. The camels and this dog felt like more fleshed out characters than the characters from a lot of movies you'll see. When the camels struggled to walk through the scorching desert, we felt for them. When the dog whimpered and struggled, we felt for him. The animals were just as fleshed out as the humans, which created a very balanced and nuanced film that hit on all cylinders.
Overall, this film was gorgeous, but also profoundly thoughtful, giving us a very human story, not only of survival in the purely physical sense, but also on an emotional level, helping us discover Robyn's character along with her, and through gorgeous visuals, perfectly orchestrated musical chords overlaying them, and the very nuanced performance form Mia Wasikowska, Tracks is simply a great movie.