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Leave No Trace

Will (Ben Foster) and his daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) live off the land alone in a national part. They have been living this way for some time, as they have become adept at getting food and shelter and avoiding detection. One day, social services officials find them and take both into custody, thus disrupting their off-the-grid lifestyle. This is such a beautifully told story – really, a different take of “coming of age” stories. The cinematography is beautiful and integrates exceptionally well into the screenplay; together, they allow the background story to unfold slowly and with incredible emotional intensity. The acting is first-rate – this appears to be McKenzie’s first role, and she holds her own against Foster who is trying to raise his daughter in the best way he possibly can (at least from his perspective). Big thumbs up for a film that grew on me; it seemed slow at the beginning, but as the plot unfolds and all the pieces come together, I felt incredibly close to both characters. I did not realize the director beforehand that the director is the same one who directed “Winter’s Bone” several years back; the film style, character development, and the telling of stories of people who live on the fringes are similar and extremely compelling. Amazing work!

About Gary Burkholder

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