Take a Drink: for pet names
Take a Drink: for any talk about Wasikowska’s father
Take a Drink: for 70s touches
Take a Drink: for flashbacks
Take a Drink: fuckin’ tourists!
Take a Drink: whenever Driver butts in with his camera
Do a Shot: fuck, camels are grotesque, freaky beasts, eh?
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Society really sucks. Traffic, those goddamn autoplay audio ads, mortgage payments, Fred from Accounting’s fat fucking face.
Go directly to Hell, Fred. Don’t pass go, but shove the $200 dollars up your ass!
Don’t you just wish you could take four camels and a dog and cross 1,700 miles of Outback from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean? Oh, I guess that’s just Robyn Davidson, then. Tracks is based on the true story of her (played by Mia Wasikowska) epic journey, her own growing awareness of her reasons for doing so, and the media attention it draws, particularly in the form of a young National Geographic photographer (Adam Driver).
Director John Curran and screenwriter Marion Nelson play the long game in this tale of wonder, ennui, dissatisfaction with society and its constructs, outsized ambition, youthful impracticality, and pure adventure. It’s no surprise that more than one reviewer has mentioned the superb Into the Wild as a reference point.
Although Wasikowska’s beard-grooming skills pale in comparison.
One thing I found interesting was that in a movie (and journey) ostensibly about solitude, there’s very little solitude. Even in the Outback in the 1970s, modern life encroaches. While in some ways, like the overzealous media or hamheaded tourists, it’s clearly frustrating, in others her encounters became a love letter to the people of Australia, from the elderly frontier couple who house her for the night to Roly Mintuma’s hilarious Eddie, who personally guides her across hundreds of miles of Aboriginal lands.
Mia Wasikowska does a great job portraying a capable and driven young woman with some deep psychological scars. It’s telling and sad that she’s better able to communicate with and grieve for the loss of animals than her own parents (including her father, who disappeared along this very trek). An able cast of supporting players make an impression in small snatches of screentime, and Driver not only turns in a typically quality fast-talking comedic performance, but is kinda genius casting in a film about camels.
I mean… right?
DP Mandy Walker is a native Aussie, and shoots a magic hour-lit portrait of her country and its Outback that shows both its desolation and its stark beauty. Garth Stevenson delivers an elegaic piano-driven score coupled with a nicely curated soundtrack to accompany those images, and John Curran furthers his reputation as one of the most criminally underrecognized directors in the business. Tracks, like his best work, sneaks up on you, slowly building to an emotional crescendo that bathes you in its afterglow long after it’s over.
This certainly does build slowly, in part because the script feels a little too linear and inclusive. The opening part with the first camel trainer feels superfluous, and the on-again, off-again romance between Driver and Wasikowska, while based in fact, is underdeveloped and in the end doesn’t seem to inform either character’s growth or even their relationship, really.
Tracks is a beautifully rendered ode to adventure and healing in the Australian Outback. Also, sorry Fred.