Review: Safe Tracks not gritty enough

39 years after her trek from the red dust of Alice Springs to the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean, with just her dog Diggity and four camels as company, Robyn Davidson’s Tracks has finally reached the big screen.

In her book of the same name, and of which this film is based, Robyn Davidson tells of her accounts as a young 20 something arriving from Queensland to the isolated, hostile and often violent Alice Springs to begin her adventure across the deserts of Western Australia.

She quickly learns it’s not uncommon for women to be raped, beaten and treated like animals in the central Australian town and the fact it didn’t deter her or distract her from her goals is what introduces us to her determined character.

Robyn also tells us of her relationship with camel trainer, Kurt Posel (Rainer Bock) at some length in the book. He almost broke her mentally but she didn’t crack under the Austrian immigrant’s dictatorship. Robyn needed his camels to accompany her on her adventure and she wasn’t going to let this bloke stop her from getting them.

These are just two enthralling passages from Davidson’s bestseller that are glossed over in John Curran’s fluffy adaptation. Davidson’s inspirational and seemingly irrational story is an incredible one, but as depicted in the American director’s film, is quite boring and does the book little justice.

“By no means is Tracks a bad film, but it’s not as powerful a film as it should be.”

Tracks is filmed beautifully though with some sweeping shots taking your breath away. The colours and ruggedness of the Australian desert are captured superbly by cinematographer Mandy Walker. These kind of landscapes are nothing new to the multi-award winner who shot Baz Luhrmann’s Australia.

As the main protagonist of the film Mia Wasikowska absorbs Davidson’s passion for this adventure. The chemistry between her and the camels is a great tribute to Davidson’s tender and caring love for the beasts.

The rest of the cast have minor roles in the film except for the endearing Adam Driver who plays Rick Smolan. He’s been assigned by National Geographic to photograph Robyn periodically throughout her trek. He’s also got the hots for her.

Special mention should be made of Tim Rogers’ cameo. He has definitely redeemed his acting credibility after his terrible turn in The Boy Castaways.

By no means is Tracks a bad film, but it’s not as powerful a film as it should be. Any moments of intensity throughout the movie are rehashed as Davidson encounters horny, wild bulls looking for some lovin’. She either shoots them dead or chases them off with a stick. Many more levels of heightened excitement could have easily been created considering the surroundings in which the film takes place.

Fans of the book shouldn’t see this film expecting a direct rendition of the epic Australian adventure but can expect a more delicate, softer version that come the films end, will make you want to jump in the ocean just to wake yourself up when you should be feeling hot, blistered and exhausted.

Tracks: 3/5
Directed by: John Curran
Staring: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, four camels and a dog
Review by: Matthew Eeles

One thought on “Review: Safe Tracks not gritty enough

  1. Pingback: Win a double pass to Tracks! | Cinema Australia

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