Following her breakout hit Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace is an intimate and complex coming-of-age story following a father and daughter struggling to maintain their unconventional lifestyle, set against the rugged terrain of the Pacific Northwest.
Will (Ben Foster, The Messenger) is a PTSD-inflicted veteran and widower living off the grid with his daughter, Tom (Thomasin McKenzie), in a public park near Portland. When Tom makes a mistake that alerts the authorities to their existence, the family is removed from the park and placed in a home by state officials. Immersed in a world she has never experienced, Tom is drawn to the friendships, community and comforts of her new surroundings. Meanwhile, Will is confronted with the triggers of the modern world.
Leave No Trace is a surprisingly endearing portrait of a father and daughter forced to contemplate whether family survival means sticking together or letting go. The lush Oregon landscape expertly contrasts the tension-filled narrative, with Foster delivering one of his most memorable performances to date—though it is McKenzie who truly makes her mark. From the director who launched Jennifer Lawrence’s career, Leave No Trace is sure to make McKenzie a newcomer to watch.
“The heart of Leave No Trace is the rapport between the father and daughter, and McKenzie and Foster are keyed to each other’s movements, perhaps even each other’s thoughts.” (David Edelstein, New York Magazine)
“Once again, Granik introduces us to a kind of family that cinema rarely captures believably, and she does so with a style that’s both lyrical and realistic at the same time, anchored by a pair of unforgettable performances.” (Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com)
“Moving, perhaps inevitably, toward a final fork in the woods, Leave No Trace condenses big questions into something simple and quietly powerful: two people bonded by blood and shared history, discovering how their needs align and diverge.” (A.A. Dowd, The A.V. Club)