Thoughts on Leave No Trace

Leave no Trace
Poster courtesy of Bleaker Street Releasing

This week’s movie is available on our Kanopy app. Leave No Trace is a 2018 movie by director Debra Granik.  Granik has done documentaries like Stray Dog and Thunder in Guyana but has also done fictional movies like Winter’s Bone and Down to the BoneWinter’s Bone is known for launching actress Jennifer Lawrence.

Leave No Trace is a story about a man (Will) living in the woods with his teenage daughter. The wife/mother is dead, and her death happened an untold number of  years ago.  One day they are discovered, and the movie shows how social services tries to reintegrate the family into society.  Will (played by Ben Foster) is a troubled vet but the movie is vague about what is wrong with him or does not overly explain it.  He is not living outside of the mainstream because he wants to, he’s compelled to live out of the mainstream.

Will’s daughter Tom (played by Thomasin McKenzie) loves her dad, but she wants to live a different life.  She adapts better to being around other people than her father does. The movie hints that maybe Tom wanted them to be found and did not put a lot of effort into hiding the day that they were discovered. I thought the movie left this open to interpretation.

Ben Foster gives a good performance as Will. You can tell there is something odd about the character, but Foster does not overact. Thomasin McKenzie is good as Tom and this was her first movie role after some TV work in her native New Zealand.  This was her breakout role and some critics compared her to Jennifer Lawrence.

I really liked this movie.  It is low-key and based on a true story.  I like big action movies about saving the world as much as anyone, but sometimes it is nice to watch a movie that is not so high-stakes.

This review from James Berardinelli is worth reading.


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