Tracks Review: Walk Don’t Run

Photo Credit:http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/movies/mia-wasikowska-as-robyn-davidson-in-trailer-for-film-tracks/story-e6frfmvr-1226773614130

On paper, Tracks should be a great film. It’s a true story about perseverance in a gorgeously shot locale starring two up-and-comers that both get a lot of challenging material. But everything here feels a little unenthusiastic.

That’s not to say a film about a woman traveling almost two thousand miles across the Australian desert should be bleeding flamboyance, but Tracks lacks a lot of life. Mia Wasikowska plays Robyn Davidson, whose memoirs on which this film is based, with an inconsistency that proves to be maddening. She totally lands some scenes, but in others comes across as a bratty teenager. Her travels also don’t put her through that many trials for most of the film, making her crankiness feel unearned.

Meanwhile, Adam Driver plays Rick Smolan, a photographer for National Geographic following Robyn around on her journey. At least his character is likable, even if the interpretation feels uninspired.

The journey itself, while following the memoir, ultimately isn’t very eventful. Robyn travels with three camels and her dog. They mostly just face blistering heat and obstacles toward women in 1970s Australian culture. Again, none of this is inherently uninteresting, but Robyn never acts like she’s in any real danger. She just kind of pouts when things don’t go her way.

The ending doesn’t really feel like a true resolution either. The whole point seems to be that journeys change you. But aside from Rick annoying her at first to them becoming friends, we don’t see much of a change in Robyn.

On the upside, there is some wonderful photography. I also enjoyed some of the moral ambiguity surrounding Driver’s character. At one point he tells Robyn that he’s manipulating a photo so it looks like she’s right next to a mountain. Robyn responds by telling him to be an honest journalist. But this happens early in the film and doesn’t really go anywhere.

I tried pretty hard to like Tracks. Both Wasikowska and Driver have given great performances in the past. Plus, who doesn’t like Australia? But it just wasn’t in the cards. This movie both tries too hard and doesn’t try hard enough to be great. The blueprints are there, but the execution on a lot of ends is just way off. This is a case where the road less traveled is that way for a reason. Grade: C-

By Matt Dougherty

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