Let’s go camping.
Leave No Trace is an emotional story about Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) who is living with her dad Will (Ben Foster) off the grid in the Oregon wilderness. Will is a combat veteran who is suffering from PTSD, and he cannot function among other people, so the two have been living in the wild for what appears to be a couple years.
After DFS finds them out, Will and Tom are rehomed into a small house on a ranch. Tom begins to adjust immediately, making friends and planning for school. Will, however, cannot stand the normal social structures, and longs for the two to return to the wild.
The tension between our two characters is well written. Foster proves once again that he is a powerhouse of an actor, and McKenzie portrays a believable and powerful young woman torn between what she knows is right and wanting to be with her father. This film contains one of the most genuine father-daughter relationships I have ever seen. The script is tight, and is primarily interested in telling a powerful story rather than making a point.
Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik has now struck gold twice. I hate how long we had to wait for a follow-up to that little gem, but it was worth it. Leave No Trace is one of the finest films of 2018. There isn’t an empty scene, dud performance, or needless complication to the story. The entire film is tight, and showcases masterpiece control of narrative form from all involved.
The world our two characters exist in is understanding to Will. The DFS doesn’t want to punish him, they want to help, but they simply can’t. I was glad to see that people aren’t needlessly portrayed as villains. The film shows the complications of trauma, and how we too often brush off concerns about peoples’ health.
This is one of those films I would say needs to be experienced. My review doesn’t do it justice. We have one of those few films that can maintain excellent small moments, and add them up to a satisfying whole.
One of the must-sees of 2018. Now, we need to petition Granik to make more films!