Leave No Trace is about the relationship between a girl and her father. It’s a patient movie and a thorough one. It takes its time unveiling the details of their relationship and their lives. The father, (Ben Foster) suffers from PTSD from his time in the military. He cannot function in society, so he chooses to live in the forest. His 13-year-old daughter, Tom (Thomasin McKenzie), lives with him.
Though life in the forest provides its challenges-Tom is growing and is often hungry-the two live happily. As Tom says, they “didn’t need to be rescued,” but living on public land is illegal. They’re brought in and assigned to indoor housing so they can regain themselves with society. Though Tom thrives, her dad struggles. He cannot handle this lifestyle anymore. The strength of their bond is tested, and it keeps them together as they navigate unfamiliar and uncomfortable terrain.
I bonded with this movie specifically because it was a movie about a father and daughter relationship. Although I can not relate to all aspects of this movie such as the fact that they live in a forest or that my father was in the war, I can relate to the bond these two actors/actresses shared.
After doing some research of this movie online, the director, and the two actors/actresses open up to the intensity this film shared. Actor Ben Foster stated, “I fell in love with the script. I also have been such a fan of Debra’s work for a while now.” Debra responded with, “I wanted their relationship to be both fragile and strong at the same time and I think it was achieved greatly.”
Both actors are serious and subtle. The whole movie is subtle. There isn’t much dialogue, but the subtext says a lot. Director Debra Granik operates with a light touch that lets events unfold without force. Her film style simply presents the moments and allows viewers to actively participate in them. Nothing is shoved in your face. It’s up to you to engage.