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.
Bad Day at Black Rock is a rather tense, and quiet suspense drama that dances with a grim social message about racial prejudice. Spencer Tracy is John J. MacReedy, a stranger who comes to the devastatingly empty town of Black Rock in the Summer of 1945, which, evidently, is the first time the train has stopped there in years. He looks for a hotel room, a car, and a local Japanese farmer named Komoko, but in his search he is faced with open hostility, then with blunt threats and harassment, and finally with suspenseful violence. MacReedy soon realizes that he will not be allowed to leave Black Rock. Town boss Reno Smith (Robert Ryan), who had Komoko killed because of his hatred of the Japanese, has also threatened MacReedy for death. MacReedy must battle town threats, the only woman in the town and movie (Anne Francis), and finally Smith himself to stay alive.
Something that made me question both the production and integrity of this movie was the lack of female roles. We are only introduced to one female character in this film, and through action and dialogue it is made very clear to the viewer that Liz Worth is an independent character. She is unfortunately tied down to town by her brother which she claims to be very dependent. From my perspective, MacReedy takes advantage of her. She appears to be one of the very few townspeople with a car and so when MacReedy is in search of one to rent, he goes to Worth and practically demands she let him use it. He does this a few times in the movie and takes her Jeep before she can even get a word in. Her relationship with MacReedy ultimately gets her killed. This is something I found rather strange because in the movie she tells MacReedy that all of these people of the town are her friends yet in the end she is shot and killed and not one single person seems to be upset about her death, including her own brother, who is the reason she is stuck in Black Rock in the first place.
– Bri Forgione