Leave No Trace is an absorbing drama, brilliantly acted by Ben Foster and Thomasin Mckenzie from the first frame until the last. It’s one of the best movies of the year and it receives a five-star review from me.
Leave No Trace is a companionate character study through the lens of a father-daughter relationship. Directed by Debra Granik (2010’s Winter’s Bone), who’s one of many women showcasing their directing chops this year in film. This is a must-see movie, as it reflects on many personal and social issues. These issues include homelessness, depression and veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The movie also helps shine light on America’s underclass. The film takes an effectively low-key approach to a sensationalistic story. We follow a father, Will (a humble Foster), and his thirteen-year-old daughter, Tom (a powerful Mckenzie), who are living an ideal existence in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon. But, when a small mistake accidentally happens it derails their lives forever. Next, Will and Tom are both put into social services. Their lives drastically change, until Will decides to make a run for it, taking his daughter with him. Granik’s film was phenomenal throughout.
A razor-sharp film that takes its time fully engulfing you with the two leading actor's every thought and emotion. I loved seeing actor Ben Foster finally tackle a leading role. Normally, Foster stays more in the supporting role territory. So, for me, it was exciting to see him tackle something more up front. And what a breakthrough performance for actor Thomasin Mckenzie. She shined brightly throughout, giving us a raw and, in the end, heartbreaking performance. The movie promises to make a star of Mckenzie. The cinematography was also beautifully filmed, zeroing in on the father-daughter relationship. This is a real, beautiful and quiet movie. It didn’t need big action set pieces or witty one-liners, all Granik had to do is introduce you to real people struggling with real situations in everyday life. Leave No Trace a phenomenal film. And there isn't a thing that I would change.
Leave No Trace is rated PG (Parental Guidance). For thematic material throughout.