Title – Leave No Trace (2018)
Director – Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone)
Cast – Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie
Plot – PTSD suffering father Will (foster) and his thirteen year old daughter Tom (McKenzie) live in the wilderness, a life removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Their way of life is threatened however when authorities remove them from their habitation and Will struggles to come to terms with entering back into society.
“I don’t have the same problem you have”
Review by Eddie on 23/10/2018
The last time talented filmmaker Debra Granik stepped behind the camera she delivered fantastic results with the Oscar nominated 2010 film Winter’s Bone, a haunting dramatic thriller that launched the career of now megastar Jennifer Lawrence.
It’s taken 8 year’s for Granik to come back to the director’s chair for a feature film and with her adaptation of Peter Rock’s book My Abandonment, Leave No Trace allows Granik to showcase once more that she’s a director of note, even if Trace leaves a little to be desired as a cold but well-acted and shot tale of a father looking for a way for himself and his teenage daughter to live outside of the norms of society.
At the time of writing, Trace holds an incredible 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes after 190 reviews, making it one of the best reviewed movies of not only 2018 but the last few year’s and it’s not hard to see why, as the film would be hard to hate thanks to Granik’s stoic work behind the camera and the impressive performances of stars Ben Foster as PTSD suffering father Will and relative newcomer Thomasin McKenzie as Will’s daughter Tom.
The problem with Trace is it’s a hard film to fall in love with, Will in particular as a character is a hard person to agree with, as his constant refusal to allow himself and Tom to live a normal life or a life that offers more than suffering in freezing conditions camping in the wilderness becomes more insufferable as the runtime wears one and Tom herself begins to understand that her lifestyle and upbringing isn’t all it could be as her needs and wants begin to change.
It’s certainly not a far-fetched example of one broken human trying to come to terms with their condition and find a way to live but it doesn’t make it any more tolerable, holding the film back from its other more noteworthy elements.
As she did with Lawrence’s turn in Winter’s Bone, Granik unearths a fantastic turn from young McKenzie who steals the show from the always solid Foster. Tom is a considerate, balanced and thoughtful soul and McKenzie does a brilliant job of examining her role in the story. It’s the type of performance that suggests the young actress will have a bright future in the industry should she indeed continue to be involved in the system.
Final Say –
A slowly paced and fuss-free affair, Leave No Trace is a solid return to the feature film landscape for Granik that includes a great performance from its young star but it’s a cold and stoic drama that fails to reach any grand emotional connections.
3 hide and seek drills out of 5
I feel like I share you sentiments, but I wouldn’t blame it on character likability. I thought the unusual parent-child relationship was on of the film’s strengths. I’d say the real issue was the lack of a climactic plot structure.
Solid point mate! It wasn’t your typically structured film that’s for sure.
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