Leave No Trace

Feel the Misery


29 June 2018| No Comments on Leave No Trace     by Sean Chavel



It is an interesting film at least from the outset, and it has some compelling shots, but I was left feeling why do I need this? The father character Will (Ben Foster) deliberately has an impenetrable mind in Leave No Trace. He raises his daughter (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) in the woods under thick brush, which turns out to be public property. When caught by police, it initially appears that he’s in big trouble, but he is given the opportunity to be acclimated into halfway housing, given a job he’s perfectly capable of doing in a rural setting, and still given rights to stay with his daughter. It seems to be against his nature to be given a set of guidelines that are ever so slightly out of step of what he’s used to, and his impulse is to rebel.

A similar story of an anti-establishment woodsman played by Viggo Mortensen raising a wild bunch of children was done recently in a film called “Captain Fantastic.” Clearly, “Leave No Trace” is more gritty and serious, with a more disciplined screenplay and a more disciplined arctic chilly visual style that is qualifiedly cinema verité – and yet “Captain Fantastic,” ahem, just better connected with its array of multi-dimensional themes.

The father leads his daughter down some bleak roads to nowhere in “Leave No Trace” and it becomes evident that she craves at least some type of grounding. But we don’t get far into the interior mind of the father who is obstinate in burying himself into his own self-alienation. One can only take so much with this character, but if you manage to make it all the way, there’s a great shot towards the end of the film as the camera rises above ground and you see him not taking the conformist, paved gravel road but instead, on his own cognizance, burrows into high grass because he prefers a life of self-imposed banishment. Yet the film might be a little too miserable before getting to that great shot.

109 Minutes. Rated PG.


Film Cousins: “The Mosquito Coast” (1986); “Running on Empty” (1988); “Grizzly Man” (2005); “Captain Fantastic” (2016).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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