CCFF 2018: Leave No Trace

Ben Foster and Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie appear in Leave No Trace, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Scott Green.

Debra Granik’s third narrative feature, Leave No Trace, is a emotionally powerful film to say the least.

We first meet Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) in their fourth year of living in Forest Park.  It’s illegal to live in public land but the two of them have gotten away with living on the outskirts of Portland for so long.  After Tom gets noticed by someone walking in the woods, it leads to the cops chasing them down and relocating them to an actual house.  This doesn’t work for Will as he doesn’t want to be a member of the community.  As for Tom, she has conflicting desires to live in a community.

Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie breaks out in her role as Will’s (Ben Foster) daughter, Tom.  She’s younger than Jennifer Lawrence was at the point in her career when she was nominated for an Oscar.  Her performance is just as emotionally powerful with a lot of talent.  There’s no reason to believe that McKenzie won’t have a bright future ahead of her.

Thematically speaking, Leave No Trace hits on the emotionally powerful moments as Granik’s 2010 film, Winter’s Bone.  It’s a survival tale so to speak with no real villain other than the conflict between father and daughter.  The film is based on Peter Rock’s novel, My Abandonment.

DIRECTOR:  Debra Granik
SCREENWRITER:  Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini
CAST:  Ben Foster, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey

An official selection of the 2018 Chicago Critics Film Festival, Leave No Trace held its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.  Bleecker Street will release in theaters on June 29, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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