By Don Groves
In the US some influential critics have raved about Mia Wasikowska’s performance in John Curran’s Tracks but audiences seem less inclined to follow her epic journey.
The Weinstein Co. launched the Outback adventure starring Wasikowska as “camel girl” Robyn Davidson last Friday after postponing the debut from the originally dated May 23.
In the first three days it grossed $US21,544 at four cinemas for a per-screen average of $5,386, which the Hollywood Reporter described as lacklustre.
According to Box Office Mojo, the film has raked in less than $US4.4 million internationally. In US dollars the top market is Australia with $2.1 million followed by the UK’s $825,000, Germany’s $772,000, the Netherlands’ $455,000 and Italy’s $311,000.
The Los Angeles Times’ Betsy Sharkey enthused, “The desert trek in Tracks is as brutal as it is beautiful; the performance by Mia Wasikowska as raw as the reality. And the camels? If they don’t steal your heart it must be stone-hinged.
“Director John Curran, whose visual imprint is always artfully drawn in films such as The Painted Veil, has somehow eclipsed himself in Tracks.”
Rolling Stone’s Pete Travers hailed the film as “an exhilarating adventure that opens up an unknown world to most of us and does it so well that we feel we’re living it too. Tracks also gets inside the head of determined woman who suffers fools badly and craves isolation from the noisy squeeze of civilization and burgeoning technology.”
Noting previous attempts to adapt Davidson’s 1979 book for the screen, The Playlist’s Oliver Lyttelton said, “For many, it’ll have been worth the wait: it’s a very handsome film with a terrific central performance, even if it’s not quite an unqualified triumph.”
The New York Observer’s Rex Reed declared, “ Beautifully composed and memorably acted by Ms. Wasikowska, it’s too ploddingly paced for moviegoers weaned on action-fuelled drivel, but the languid movement becomes part of the arduous adventure. This is the most brutal depiction of the complex Australian outback since Wake in Fright, but Tracks does give you an austere respite from the noise, boredom and negativity of life in the city Robyn is looking for—and a welcome escape from hackneyed filmmaking for the rest of us.”
Among the naysayers, The New Yorker’s David Denby said, “The memoir is strongly written, and I wish that the movie, directed by John Curran… had more excitement to it. “
Denby liked the early scenes but found that when the protagonist sets off into the desert “the movie falls into what can only be called a righteous monotony. The slight Wasikowska is a capable, pure-spirited actress, but she lacks the largeness of desire and the perversity that, say, Charlize Theron would have brought to the role a decade ago.”