Debra Granik’s sobering Leave No Trace, based on Peter Rock’s fact-based My Abandonment, follows a teenage girl and her father, homeless, on the run and camping in a huge urban park. It’s a compelling study of survival and family bonds, but it’s also about the war wounds and the lasting effects of PTSD. Continue reading…
Ben Foster is Will; he and his daughter Tom have built a sustainable long term life in the woods. Her homeschooling includes “the drill” – how to escape camp and disappear into the brush in case the authorities show up. She’s content, he’s wary at all times. She lets her guard down and someone sees her. Police show up, arrest and separate them, put them through psychological testing; they’re housed and she remarks that everything is different now.
He says “Our camp was such a good one. Yeah we stayed too long”. A job and enforced church attendance put him on edge but she shows every sign of wanting to normalize.
They run away, see their camp bulldozed, hitchhike north and nearly kill themselves in freezing conditions. His need to run shows he’s trapped. All we know is that he served in the military and a man who helps them recognizes his condition.
Tom reminds him that she “doesn’t have” what he has, leading to a desperate conclusion.
Leave No Trace is powerful, devastating and a rallying cry for enlightened support of veterans and the disenfranchised. Thomasin Mackenzie, Tom, seems effortlessly authentic and lifelike in a stunning performance.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Leave No Trace is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week.