Lucy Popescu

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Posts Tagged ‘Mia Wasikowska’

Film review – Tracks

Posted by lucypopescu on August 19, 2014

TracksTracks (2013) John Curran’s award-winning film, starring Mia Wasikowska (Lawless, Stoker, Jane Eyre), tells the true story of Robyn Davidson, a young woman who in 1977 trekked across almost 2,000 miles of Australian desert with only four temperamental camels and a dog for company. Adapted from Davidson’s bestselling book, Marion Nelson’s screen adaptation opens with Robyn attempting to find work training feral camels. Her plan is to earn her own dromedaries for the trip. She also needs to be financed and this comes in the form of a deal with National Geographic magazine who agree to fund the trek in return for exclusive photographs. These are taken by American Rick Smolan (Adam Driver) who meets Robyn at various stages of her journey and manages to irritate and comfort her in equal measure.

Robyn’s mammoth, nine-month journey takes her from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean. She encounters various obstacles including dehydration, sunstroke, a dust storm, loneliness and the near loss of her camels. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn of her tragic past— the death of her mother at an early age and Robyn’s ambivalent relationship with her father who was also an adventurer. Asked about her reasons for the trek Robyn claims “I just want to be by myself.” She is clearly wary of close human relationships and prefers the company of her beloved dog Diggity.

It’s a rite of passage of sorts as Robyn comes to terms with bereavement and discovers that she needs human companionship and the support of others as well as having to draw on her own inner strengths. Rick proves surprisingly sensitive and thoughtful, depositing vital water canisters along her route, and offering her encouragement when she becomes overwhelmed by doubt. Driver and Wasikowska work exceptionally well together on screen. The aborigines Robyn meets also prove kind and helpful. There’s a wonderful encounter with one, Mr. Eddy (Rolley Mintuma), who accompanies her part of the way across sacred ground and scares off some overly inquisitive tourists. It’s Wasikowska’s film, though, and she carries it with panache.

Inspired by Smolan’s photographs, Tracks is skilfully shot. Mandy Walker’s cinematography perfectly captures the parched terrain and heat haze of a desolate landscape. Her framing of massive expanses of red earth is contrasted with close-ups of Robyn’s blistered, sun-burnt face while the aerial shots of the scorched environment serve to accentuate her isolation, the hazardous nature and true scale of her endeavour.

DVD released 18 August 2014

Originally published by

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Film review – Jane Eyre

Posted by lucypopescu on September 11, 2011

Cary Joji Fukunaga’s invigorating new version of Jane Eyre (2011), starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, should appeal to Charlotte Brontë purists as well as attracting new fans. The film couldn’t be more different than Fukunaga’s award-winning debut Sin Nombre (2009), a violent thriller about a group of immigrants travelling through Mexico to the U.S, yet there are surprising similarities between the two stories.

Both of Fukunaga’s films tackle hardship and loss, involve characters who want to improve their lot and explore difficult familial relationships. Working against Brontë’s linear narrative, screenwriter Moria Buffini opens the film with Jane Eyre’s flight from Thornfield Hall. Her childhood and the beginning of her love affair with Edward Rochester are subsequently told through flashbacks.

Wisely, Buffini does not dwell too long on Jane’s early years, focusing instead on her defining moments. As a young orphan (played with great assurance by Amelia Clarkson) Jane is entrusted into the care of her cruel aunt Mrs. Reed (the excellent Sally Hawkins).

Aged ten, Jane is packed off to a charitable boarding school where the children are given an education in exchange for regular beatings and inexplicable cruelty. During a typhoid epidemic Jane’s best friend dies in her arms. After her schooling, Jane works there as a teacher for two years before deciding it’s time to move on. She accepts a position as governess at the grand Thornfield Hall, teaching Adèle, a young French girl and ward of the manor’s enigmatic owner, Mr. Rochester.

When Jane and Rochester meet, there is an immediate connection. Film audiences can enjoy an electric screen dynamic between Fassbender and Wasikowska. Fassbender’s Rochester tends towards the Byronic; craggy good looks, brooding and cynical, his gallantry is tainted by arrogance and frequent mood swings; at times his behaviour verges on the sadistic. But his love for Jane redeems him, just.

Despite being only 21, Wasikowska displays a remarkable maturity as an actress and effortlessly inhabits her character. Adriano Goldman’s frequent close-ups means that she has to work hard to express her character’s thoughts in her eyes or reveal Jane’s innermost hopes for love through the merest twitch of her lips or the hint of a smile. Jane’s beauty comes from within and Wasikowska allows it to creep up on you.

Jane Eyre is an intensely romantic story, and the Gothic undertones and elements of horror, have ensured its enduring appeal. Not surprisingly, since 1910 there have been 18 feature versions of Bronte’s classic (and 10 TV adaptations).

Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre stands out on a number of levels. As well as boasting a star-studded cast – with the likes of Hawkins and Judi Dench playing cameo roles – Wasikowska perfectly captures Jane’s sexual and emotional awakening, a major theme in the book and one that is notoriously difficult to convey on film. Fukunaga also retains the darkness of Brontë’s original story through a careful combination of muted colour, harsh landscapes and eerily dark interiors. Veering towards Jane’s feminist, rather than romantic, side brings to the fore her desire for respect, equality and freedom and gives a contemporary resonance to the film.

Originally published by Cinevue

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