Dan Says LEAVE NO TRACE Leaves An Everlasting Impression

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FILM REVIEW: LEAVE NO TRACE

BY DAN SKIP ALLEN

Ben Foster plays Will, a father who lives off the grid and off the land with his daughter Tom, played by Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, in Leave No Trace. Father and daughter live an idyllic life in the woods adjacent to Portland, Oregon. Will has taught his daughter everything about living in the wilds of Oregon, from capturing water for showers to how to start a fire using twigs and leaves. This life is all they know until Tom is seen by a hiker and alerts the authorities of their presence in the forest. They are captured by the police and taken into custody. They are subject to tests and psychologist’s questions. They both have a hard time adjusting to all of this. Trying to acclimate into society, they end up living in a house and working for a farmer. This seems like it’s a good life for them but, there are some inner feelings in Will’s mind that begin to conflict his interest in this place.

Ben Foster has chosen some interesting roles as of late and portraying Will in Leave No Trace continues to show his range as an actor. The subtle way he looks at his daughter and the emotions he goes through throughout the film, enforces that range. You can see the decisions he has to make for himself and his daughter way heavenly on his character. He gives one of the best performances of 2018 so far.

Thomasin McKenzie is a relative newcomer to the big screen but this is definitely her breakout role and it’s a tough one, considering she is acting opposite Ben Foster. She gives a powerful yet emotional performance as Tom. She wishes she could have a different life rather than the one she was living with her father. She primarily shines when she has to shows the weight of her character while going toe to toe with her father about that struggle. Standing along side Foster, she shows great potential.

Leave No Trace will have you caring for these characters like you never knew you could. Once Debra Granik introduces you to them, you’re instantly brought into their story and their plight; the way she unravels the plot through her direction and storytelling, it just sucks you right in and absolutely never lets go. The film is also gloriously shot with serious breathtaking cinematography by Michael McDonough. While watching the film, It makes you want to instantly go camping and get lost in these very same woods. While watching the film, it captures the lush and beautiful trees. McDonough is no stranger to showing the value of nature’s surroundings with credits in similar movies such as Winter’s Bone, and he does the same with The Oregon Forest focusing on a bright,vibrant green wonderland.  We’ve seen other father daughter films this year such as Hearts Beat Loud, but Leave No Trace will have your eyes emotionally glaring at the screen in such a completely different way. The whole struggle these two go through is what keeps you glued to the screen throughout the film. This is a definite must see for everybody.

 

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