Granik creates a fascinating world revolving around two seemingly unimportant people, vital to each others survival
Leave No Trace’s calm, quiet and reserved demeanour works perfectly as a cover for its deep, cavernous inner shell. Playing host to some incredible ideas and intuitive backstory, it is a film that tacitly draws in interest, offering few but important clues as to how Will (Ben Foster) and his daughter Tom (Tomasin McKenzie) found themselves living in the forests of Oregon.
As they move on with their journey, Will finds it increasingly difficult to integrate with society and director Debra Granik creates a real sense of alienation towards any form of social normality. Not only does this enable siding with Will and Tom against the authorities but to also expand upon their precise feelings, and why they take the actions that they do.
The central performances are astounding, suggesting an incredible bond with genuine heart behind it. As the film runs, the bond stretches with cracks appearing, allowing the pair’s past to expose its tough head. There’s a very metaphorical and ambiguous nature to Leave No Trace, which only goes to enhance the themes and inspire the fascination bundled along with the story.
It’s never tough to watch, but a resistance can certainly be found with the difficult decisions taken by both core characters throughout. The denial element is perhaps one that needed a stronger input, and is rare in the sense it is a motif missing a fully formed backing.
Leave No Trace is near perfect in its depiction of imperfections, not looking to endear characters difficult to immediately fall for. Instead it allows slow pacing and strong theming to offer their positives, explain their story and give them the redemption they deserve. Granik creates a fascinating world revolving around two seemingly unimportant people, vital to each others survival.