The Best Movie I Almost Didn’t Watch

Last night I was feeling down on myself and I wanted to watch something on Netflix. After a few tries, I settled on Tracks starring Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver. I figured if there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to get me out of my own head, it’s watching someone overcome hardship and “defeat” nature. I expected it to be  a cheesy docudrama style movie that would lure me into dreams about Australia and adventures. I expected to half pay attention and turn it off halfway through.

I did not fall asleep. This movie grabbed my entire attention, and for 2 hours I was completely enthralled. I cried multiple times, and not just during the sad scenes. Tracks is a beautifully shot movie. I’ve never spent much time thinking about or learning about the Australian desert, so I’m certainly no expert, but this movie brought the outback to life for me.

Tracks is based on the book by the same name by Robyn Davidson. Davidson was the first woman to cross the Australian desert alone on foot, with only four camels and a dog. For most of the journey, Davidson was alone. She met up with the National Geographic photographer a few times to do photos, she spent some time walking through sacred lands with an Aboriginal elder, and there’s a lovely scene where she spends a night with an elderly couple in the middle of nowhere, but for most of the movie Robyn is alone. Mia Wasikowska rises to the challenge as the only person on screen. She shines on screen as “the camel woman.” Wasikowska brings Robyn to life with nuance and complexity. She doesn’t shy away from the deeper, more traumatic things that movie deals with.

One small warning (and also a spoiler) for people who want to check this out: it has the most upsetting dog death I’ve ever seen on screen. It isn’t gory–there are a few violent scenes in the movie and none of them are gory–but it is heartbreaking. Even thinking about it today while writing this review has brought tears to my eyes and I’m not even a dog person.

Tracks is a truly beautiful, moving film. It’s one of the best I’ve seen in a long time, certainly the best one I’ve watched on a whim. I’m excited to find a copy of the book and to learn more about the true story behind this amazing film.

tl;dr: A+++, 100 stars, watch this movie.

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