Overview: The true story of Robyn Davidson’s quest to cross Australia on foot. 2014; Transmission films;Rated Pg-13; 112 Minutes.
Getting Away From it All: These days we are more connected than ever and sometimes it can be maddening trying to find a little peace and quiet and time to ourselves. Of course there’s a big difference between disconnecting your Facebook for a few weeks and deciding that you want to travel 2,700KM across barren Australia with four camels and a dog.
This is what Robyn Davidson (played by Mia Wasikowska) decides to do when she wants to be alone. She resolves to travel from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean by herself (with the aforementioned dog and camels). In order to get funding for her trip she seeks sponsorship from National Geographic, who agrees to fund her with the proviso she allows one of their photographers, Rick Smolan (played by Adam Driver), to tag along for parts of the trip. Rick starts the film as an annoyance but gradually becomes an ally to Wasikowska as the trip becomes more brutal.
Helping Hands: Interestingly, for a movie about a person seeking solitude, there are not huge stretches of time spent with just Wasikowska and her menagerie. She encounters quite a lot of other people and a majority of them (save a few dickhead tourists) are helpful and supportive of her. She is even joined for a part of the trip through sacred Aboriginal lands by Mr Eddy, an Aboriginal elder (or Old Fella) who, though he speaks very little English, speaks constantly. When Wasikowska is alone she does very well to show her character’s hardship and self-doubt. Caked in dirt, sunburnt and exhausted looking; she wears every progressive inch of her long journey right there on her face as she keeps putting one foot in front of the other.
Just Deserts: Second billed on this film should be Australia. It’s otherworldly vastness and emptiness fills the screen as Wasikowska plods along the ever-changing landscape. Though I should note the landscape really only cycles between different kinds of desert. There’s hilly dune-y desert, parched cracked earth desert, bramble-y desert, hot-as-hell red sand desert. It’s like a Greatest Hits of Deserts That Will Probably Kill You.
Overall: From the description of this film that I read in the paper I expected something more…wanky. Instead, this is an entertaining film about setting goals and then putting in the work to realize them. Nothing comes easy and, in order to succeed, Wasikowska (or rather Davidson, whose memoir serves as the source material for the movie) must suffer and sacrifice in order to get the solitude she needs and achieve her lofty goal even when others are doubting her.