The first major acquisition of the fall festival circuit is The Weinstein Company’s purchase of the U.S. rights to the John Curran film Tracks, which stars Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver. The film, which had its world premiere in competition at the ongoing Venice Film Festival and shortly thereafter made it’s North American premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, stars Wasikowska in the real life story of Robyn Davidson, a woman who in 1977 made a tumultuous solo journey through 1700 miles of arduous Australian desert. The film tells the true story of Davidson, who, accompanied by her dog Diggity and four camels, trekked over nine months through the harsh Australian desert beginning in Alice Springs and concluding at the Indian Ocean. Along the way, National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan (played by Adam Driver) photographs her voyage. The film was based on Davidson’s memoir and written for the screen by Marion Nelson.
The journey to the screen for Tracks is a long one. For years a film version of Davidson’s story has been heavily sought after by some of the most famous actresses in the world, including at certain times, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman. The film came together independent financing and the help of producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, Oscar-winners for The King’s Speech, also distributed by The Weinstein Company. Curran, whose varied career includes past titles like the Edward Norton-Robert De Niro thiller Stone, the W. Somerset Maugham adaptation The Painted Veil, and the marital drama We Don’t Live Here Anymore, shot the Australian-filmed and focused story. Films focusing on their lead characters pit against the elements is a striking theme represented in several heavily buzzed about titles, including Gravity, which drift Sandra Bullock alone in space, and All is Lost, in which Robert Redford is forced to faced mortality as he’s adrift at sea. Tracks, like the two aforementioned films is receiving nice early reviews as well.
In Contention‘s Guy Lodge says of the film: “Honors its subject’s stoic reserve, but allows a strain of warm calico romanticism into her remarkable story.” He also singled out Wasikowska’s performance, “Pale and birch-like, possessed of an unusual beauty that doesn’t come separate from an innate intelligence, she has successfully built her career so far on a kind of cool but relatably reticent quality: through starring roles in the likes of Jane Eyre and Stoker, she’s become a go-to girl for characters who are nobody’s go-to girls. As such, she’s ideal for the role of Robyn, a woman who doesn’t mean to be antisocial, but has strictly rationed practical use for the company – social, professional or even sexual – of others. ‘How can you tell a nice person to just crawl into a hole and die?’ she asks a sympathetic benefactor at one point. In Wasikowska’s quiet phrasing, it’s not a facetious question.” Variety’s Justin Chang called the film, “a gorgeously rendered adventure saga.”
Wasikowska, of Jane Eyre, The Kids Are All Right and Alice in Wonderland fame, most recently was seen in the spring indie Stoker opposite Nicole Kidman, as well as the Jim Jarmusch vampire oddity Only Lovers Left Alive, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. She has another title set to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival– The Double co-starring Jesse Eisenberg which was directed by Richard Ayoade. Driver, currently Emmy-nominated for his role in Girls, co-stars the eagerly anticipated and awards hopeful Inside Llewyn Davis, the latest film from the Coen Brothers, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes this past May and is making the festival rounds before opening at the beginning of December.
We are going to speculate that the very busy slate of upcoming films from The Weinstein Company (including August: Osage County, Philomena, Grace of Monaco and Mandela: Walk to Freedom) will push the arrival of Tracks to 2014 to likely spur potential awards interest, but no word on possible release dates have been established; we will keep you up to date to the latest. Tracks will next play the upcoming Toronto Film Festival.