VENICE – It may not have received ecstatic reviews across the board, but when the dust settles on this year’s Venice Film Festival, one of my personal highlights is still likely to be “Tracks,” John Curran’s classical, visually resplendent true-life tale of Australian explorer Robyn Davidson’s 1700-mile trek across the Outback desert. Judi Dench may have all the Lido buzz right now for “Philomena,” but were it up to me, “Tracks” lead Mia Wasikowska would be the leading contender for Best Actress at this point in the fest.
In any event, it looks like Dench and Wasikowska may soon be stablemates, as it was reported today that The Weinstein Company is in talks to acquire “Tracks” for US distribution — the first big acquisitions news of the fall festival season.
That seems a logical fit to me. Speaking with a colleague who was as taken with the film as I was after it screened in Venice on Thursday morning, we were wondering which high-end American outfit would snap up this prestige item — Fox Searchlight or Focus would also have served it well, but the Weinsteins should do a good job of playing up both its classy pedigree and its broad accessibility. (Enterprising older families could go see this, in addition to the more obvious target market.)
We don’t know yet what the Weinsteins have in mind as a release date: it could be an awards vehicle, or it could be a modest 2014 art house release in the vein of say, “The Sapphires,” another Australian festival crowd-pleaser picked up by TWC. They seemingly have enough on their awards plate this year, particularly with such female-led vehicles as “Philomena” and “August: Osage County,” so they may want to play the long game with this one.
Whatever route they choose, here’s hoping they do a better job than Warner Independent did with Curran’s “The Painted Veil” in 2006: buried in the late-December crush, that rather lovely film didn’t find an audience, and made no headway on Oscar voters either. It deserved better.