Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace ★★★★

Debra Granik does such a remarkable job cementing the ebb and flow of tension between the characters and where they're venturing off to. Will and Tom's relationship looks almost perfect from the outside - they move with such ease and belonging in their camp, almost in away that makes it seem like they're living outdoors to protect Tom for her own good. Over the course of the movie, we come to realize how misguided that assumption is. As their "homes" change from the wilderness to more civilized society, and back again, there's a consistent fear of how the environment works against or for them - from someone discovering where they live and making them adapt to civilization to needing to survive whatever mother nature throws at them.

Sure, everyone needs some kind of shelter and food - but another kind of survival comes up in how people acclimate to the world around them. The power dynamic between father and daughter becomes clearer - his needs of survival are so much different than hers. He expects her to meet his needs and because that's what she's always done - but there's no leeway due to his PTSD. He's kind of blinded by the sense of community that he could forge and that could help him settle instead of remaining so restless. He does try, but it's just not enough. As free as he is physically in the wild, he's limited emotionally, and vice versa - living in a nice house with things and people isn't a cage for Tom - it gives her freedom. If there's a gift their past lifestyle gave her, it's the ability to take care of herself no matter what shelter she calls home. Both Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie give wonderful performances that really makes you feel for their characters, the constant push and pull of whether or not they should/could stay together.

Similar to Nomadland, we the audience might not be able to relate to the choices that Will makes, but Granik remains refreshingly non-judgmental. I kept expecting this to take a dark turn, but it stays rooted in the characters and story. Definitely one of my faves for the 52 Films by Women Challenge

*added to double feature ideas list

Katy liked this review