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Based on a bestselling memoir by Robyn Davidson (played by Mia Wasikowska), it tells the true story of how she decided to walk across the Australian desert, coast to coast. Just because.
Getting this thing made sounds like a tough enough slog in itself. The film has been in development since before Wasikowska was born. At different points Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts were in the running for the lead role. In the end Wasikowska does well enough here. Girls‘ Adam Driver kills it as the love interest/enabler who manages to secure sponsorship for Robyn’s mission. The catch is that he be allowed photograph it for National Geographic. The two enter into a nervous dance as Robyn decides what it would mean to have him, or anyone, around.
The main problem with all this is that the premise is interesting but the actual movie is boring. We get a series of incidents but no real story; just one thing after the other. It looks nice and some sequences are effective but you never get the sense that anyone got to the heart of anything here. It’s like everyone approached it not caring if it was actually about anything for them. It makes for a numb, frustrating watch.
The film doesn’t seem interested in why someone might take such a huge risk. Robyn’s motivations are dealt with with some voiceover that says ‘Why not?’ and that’s that. In fact the film stays irritatingly neutral about everything. It touches on lots of issues but doesn’t really engage with any. Oppressive 70’s Aussie society, the social contract, the harshness of nature, money, celebrity, smalltalk; all are kind of just there.
The director, John Curran, does a workmanlike job but that’s a backhanded compliment. There’s a cliché that a good director knows where to put a camera. Forget ‘where’. Why?