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‘Leave No Trace’ Review: A father-daughter story raising a lot of issues

From director Debra Granik (the Academy Award-nominated Winter’s Bone, Stray Dog, Down to the Bone) delivers a mesmerizing and amazing exploration into homelessness, PTSD, the inability to integrate into culture due to past trauma with Leave No Trace.

The film begins with a teenage girl, Tom (breakout newcomer Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), and her veteran father Will (Ben Foster of Hell or High Water and The Messenger) living in the woods of massive part near Portland, Oregon. All efforts to avoid others ends when a jogger spots Tom and pulls in child services and counselors calling for Will to integrate the pair in society.

After a brief attempt at working, living in a house and supporting Tom’s growth as a young woman, Will succumbs to his emotional baggage and they flee back into the wilderness before finding themselves back into a new community. Will finds solitude and survival in living alone and Tom doesn’t know any other way to live.

Foster’s Will is another great addition to his impressive resume and body of work. What is a greater surprise is the performance from McKenzie, a young New Zealand actress who carries the film (NOTE: she stars in Taika Waititi’s (Thor: Ragnarok) new film, Jojo Rabbit).

The title plays on the literal, the duo trying to stay hidden in the woods, and a great metaphor for the experienced campers and others who know the true way to love nature is to do no harm.

Granik breaks all of the rules by never spoonfeeding the audience a bunch of bland commentary and instead dabbles with stirring representations of life on the streets, those struggling with PTSD, the consequences of the controlling government officials and how the mentally ill affect their families.

The screenplay is by Granik and Academy Award nominee Anne Rosellini (Winter’s Bone, Down to the Bone), adapted from Peter Rock’s novel My Abandonment, which is inspired by a true story.

Leave No Trace 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

I liken the film to last years Lady MacBeth, a great film with amazing performances, landing in theaters in a limited way and in the shadow of big, blockbuster films. It’s tough to suggest this dramatic film as many will find it dull, requiring too much brain power to appreciate the messaging. That said, it is tremendous, set in beautiful terrain with great performances, check it out.

Rated: PG
Run Time: 109 MINUTES

Official Website: www.LeaveNoTrace.Movie  
Official Trailer (YouTube): https://youtu.be/_07ktacEGo8
Hashtag: #LeaveNoTrace
Instagram: @leavenotracemovie
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeaveNoTraceMovie

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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