Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik, 2018) loosely based on Peter Rock’s 2009 novel My Abandonment

Thomasin McKenzie, Ben Foster, Jeffery Rifflard

A father and his thirteen year-old daughter are living an ideal existence in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon, when a small mistake derails their lives forever.

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.

Consistently downplayed, and with little of the shocking squalor or violence of Winter’s Bone, Leave No Trace may struggle to make the same impact as Granik’s earlier film. It’s a rewarding experience, nonetheless: a story of deep emotional poignancy, with a grim political relevance. Tom and Will’s tragedy began in a conflict on foreign shores, but modern urban America offers no safe haven. Pamela Huchinson, Sight & Sound.

Granik shoots the spaces of “civilization” with low-key menace: When Will is forced to sit at a computer and answer hundreds of true-false questions for a personality test, she places him off-center in the composition, with obstructions in the frame. We feel his entrapment and discomfort. Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice.

When I read the script, me and my fiancĂ© found out that she was pregnant and with a girl. The natural thing as a father, is to think how we are going to take care of the kids. How am I going to be a father, how can I protect my child? Once you start walking down that icy staircase without a railing, of saying, ‘wait a minute, how do we get out of this city if there’s a bomb that drops? How do I feed my family if the supermarket is closed?’ Most people don’t want to think this way, they call it extreme. But it’s not extreme if you travel the world. If you’re stuck in Los Angeles, sure, it’s impossible. There’s a great grocery store every few blocks, Starbucks on every corner, you’ve got everything you need, everything’s a smile, Crest toothpaste all the way. But if you leave that area and you see the rest of the world, it doesn’t work like that. Ben Forster speaking to James Mottram, FilmInk.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 5 February, 2019 | Now: 7 February, 2019