Movie review: Leave No Trace: Life in the woods
By Nirupa Mohan Dore
Ceylon Today Features
Leave No Trace is a one of a kind 2018 drama film, adaptation, of the popular 2009 novel My Abandonment by Peter Rock, which is based on a true story. The film stars Ben Foster as Will, and Thomasin McKenzie as his daughter Tom, as they try to live a life of isolation in the woods.
The 109-minute film created by academy award-nominated writer and director of Winter’s Bone (2010), director Debra Granik, was made together with producers Linda Reisman, Anne Harrison and Anne Rosellini, in collaboration with production companies Topic Studios, Bron Studios, Still Rolling Productions, Reisman Productions and Harrison Productions. The film was praised for the performance by its lead cast, became the second most reviewed film, after Paddington 2 (2017), to easily hold a flawless and impressive approval rating of 100%, on Rotten Tomatoes. Meanwhile, the movie earned over 7.6 million dollars at the worldwide box office, amid positive reviews and being among numerous critic’s top 10 lists.
Set in Portland, Oregon, the story centres on a military veteran father and his 13-year-old daughter, who live in the woods at an urban park, isolating, and maintaining a healthy peaceful existence, but after someone spots one of them, their lives change, needing to overcome countless obstacles. The film tells a powerful story, that is moving, unique and hopeful as they are reintroduced to society.
Considered one of 2018’s best films, this film rated 7.2/10 on IMDb, manages to walk its viewers through the lives of the father and daughter, in a story that isn’t about a strong plot but is about understanding the way the characters lived in their day to day life. There is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), nightmares and troubling dreams, with a sense that veterans who feel more comfortable, living life off the grid, struggle to belong, finding it hard to adapt to an environment that is considered normal, which can be stressful and overwhelming, but there is no villain in the film.
There is not much dialogue throughout, but the story follows the characters, to try and understand them. The story is wise and fragile at the same time, with several heartfelt moments, with people who understand them and want to genuinely help them.
Movies with parents and children in unusual situations are not new but the fact that this is based on a true story, makes it an intriguing and intelligent story of survival in the wild, with their daily routines, such as gathering food, playing games, and having an intense sense of responsibility for each other.
If it is one thing the film could have had more of, it would have been a deeper explanation of why they are there, with a backstory about the daughter, and more on societal distrust. The film manages to deliver good storytelling, with the individuals choosing their own path in life.
The film with countless nominations and awards also stars Dale Dickey as Dale, Alyssa McKay as Valerie, Dana Millican as Jean Bauer, Jeff Kober as Walters, each doing their part with their performances.
This is a simple yet engaging film that focuses on storytelling, backed by calm and well-paced drama, amid the green parklands and woods they call home.