Leave No Trace

Director: Debra Granik
Year Released: 2018
Rating: 3.0

War vet Will (Ben Foster) lives out in the woods with his daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) where he teaches her survivalist techniques and growing your own food ... but social services track them down and force them to lead a 'domestic lifestyle' which doesn't suit Will at all. While part of me wished Granik included a little more information on the situation - aside from some brief bits of dialogue and the headline of a newspaper clipping - the other part's glad she respects the audience to assemble the pieces and draw their own conclusions: we currently have a real issue in this country with homeless veterans, and while some may just be poor and unable to find proper shelter, others choose to be homeless, rejecting help. The power of the film comes not only from the filmmaker's self-control and controlled pacing, but with Foster (one of our best actors) and newcomer McKenzie: it quickly defuses any suggestion that there may be something incestuous going on between them although it does make one question how a father could subject his daughter to that kind of nomadic lifestyle (and how she could leave him at the end).