Ever since she can remember, Robyn Davidson (played by Mia Wasikowska) has been an outsider and a bit of an adventurer. As a girl, she avidly listened as her father (by Robert Coleby) told stories of his courageous journeys around the globe and she has grown up with a yearning to explore her world. In April 1977, she decides to take on an epic journey – to walk across Australia’s outback from Alice Springs to the West Australian coast. This 3,200 km trek will take months and all Robyn plans to take with her are some camels and her dog, Diggity. Some say this is brave, others say it’s plain stupid, but she’s doing it – regardless of the views of friends and family. She sets off, but needs money to fund her journey so she accepts an offer from National Geographic magazine to publish an article about her adventure. Although it goes against her want to be completely alone, the article means one of the magazine’s photographers, Rick Smolan (by Adam Driver) must regularly check in with her for updates and photos. She hates it and would much rather be with her thoughts, her animals and her environment. Her journey takes her through the rugged Outback, across sacred aboriginal grounds and much of the vast continent until somehow, the unlikely grouping finally sees the trek through to its end.
This is a great story, but for me it loses something in its telling. There’s no doubt about the bravery and utter determination that Robyn Davidson has shown to do this in the first place – and Australia is showcased wonderfully here, thanks to the marvellous cinematography. This is particularly so in the scenes where humans, animals and the enrivonment interact with great depth. A glimpse into Australia’s indigenous culture is also provided along the way. Mia Wasikowska is good – she is determined, stubborn and brave, as she needs to be for this. Her role was clearly taxing and the environment demanding. As photographer Rick, Adam Driver is appropriately nerdy and pathetic – which explains Robyn’s irritation every time he turns up. There is a great cameo performance from Rolley Mintuma as the Aboriginal elder, Eddy and one from John Flaus, who teaches Robyn how to relate to camels. But unfortunately, I found the movie too long and not terribly engaging – perhaps that’s just me.
Made in 2014. Directed by John Curran.