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Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace (2018)

June. 29,2018
| Drama

A father and daughter live a perfect but mysterious existence in Forest Park, a beautiful nature reserve near Portland, Oregon, rarely making contact with the world. But when a small mistake tips them off to authorities, they are sent on an increasingly erratic journey in search of a place to call their own.


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This story has more twists and turns than a second-rate soap opera.


The first must-see film of the year.

Derrick Gibbons

An old-fashioned movie made with new-fashioned finesse.


A terrific literary drama and character piece that shows how the process of creating art can be seen differently by those doing it and those looking at it from the outside.


A beautiful relationship between her and her damaged father. Did not feel like a movie. I felt that I was living their life. So emotional.


Don't walk in to see this movie expecting any action and excitement. That's not what this is. '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. Dad (Ben Foster, gripping) 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, a revelation), 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 re-acclimate themselves with society. While 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. Both actors are terrific-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 forcing anything upon her audience.Her film style simply presents moments and allows viewers to actively participate in them. Nothing is shoved in your face. It's up to you to engage, so you can take away from this movie as much or as little as you choose.This is unequivocally a theater movie. It's not meant to be half-watched on an airplane. To experience it in full-and you should do this-go to a theater and really pay attention and think along with the movie. It's a rewarding experience that gives a lot back, as long as you give a little first.


First, beautiful acting, and camera work! The actors portray the father-daughter beautifully, the tensions are well enacted and grips your attention. However, the lack of explanation, or any kind of backstory, the movie, in my opinion does not deliver. Why is he so traumatized? What happened to his unit in army? Why does he need to leave outside the society? What happened to the mom? None of these questions are answered. I concur with the comment that suggests that this movie only has a beginning but not middle or end. The 3 stars are for the awesome acting and camera work.


I really liked the style of this movie. Nothing is ever explained, and little is even said, but the plot is sort of inferred from peoples actions. The atmosphere is also perfect, very vivid in it's capture of different environments.Now here's why I didn't like it very much. This is going to be kind of a spoiler, so stop reading here if you haven't seen it.So, the *storytelling* is great, but I found the actual story to be unrealistic. Every time the characters encounter the outside world, even the grittier parts of it, they find it to be warm and welcoming. I think the writers did this so as not to distract from the real reason the father went off-grid; but it just comes off as totally contrived. Like it's one thing to have some unusual characters, but its just everybody. Nobody behaves in a realistic way; everyone's just ..too nice.My second problem is with the girl. Supposedly she's been raised in the woods for a long time, with just her dad and a couple of damp textbooks; but inexplicably whenever she finds herself in a social situation, shes perfectly well adjusted and shows no difficulty. It's a feel good moment when the girl meets a boy or an old woman, and just instantly makes a connection with them and has a nice conversation; but really?? Being in the woods for years had no effect on her?? It just doesn't make any sense.Basically they portray this totally intense situation; but inexplicably it doesn't seem to have any psychological effect on the characters. This made it very hard to *believe* anything that happened.