By: Henry J. Fromage (A Toast) –
It’s been eight years and basically all of Jennifer Lawrence’s career since we first were introduced to her by Debra Granik in the crackling and acclaimed Winter’s Bone.
Which also kicked off all of our John Hawkes infatuation
Well, finally somebody got the good sense to give Granik a feature budget again, and she’s delivered us Leave No Trace, the story of a father (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) who are flushed out of their National Forest squatter abode and forced to try and re-acclimate to society. Foster has his demons and is desperate to return to the safe anonymity of the woods, but McKenzie finds she may need more than what just he can provide.
This is pretty much a two-hander between Foster and McKenzie, and we’re not likely to see two such beautifully calibrated and complimentary performances this year. Between their efforts and Granik’s, so little needs to be said out loud in this film. Instead you find yourself enraptured as actors and director alike show instead of tell, and show with grace and subtlety that nonetheless feel entirely authentic.
Foster is a veteran with a hinted at truly traumatic past, so it’s no wonder he wants nothing to do with normal society, and McKenzie’s Tom is quite a survivor herself. She’s asked to lift quite a load in this- transitioning from a loner survivalist to a curious teenager who starts to wonder whether she’s indeed wired like her dad, or whether the call of society is greater than the call of the wild. The fact that it’s genuinely hard for you to pick a side in the decision shows how skillfully it’s presented.
Leave No Trace is yet another impeccably observed, brilliantly acted character piece from Debra Granik. Let’s not wait another decade til the next one, please.
Leave No Trace (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever Tom does something headstrong or independent
Take a Drink: for every hint at her dad’s troubling military past
Take a Drink: whenever Tom and her dad take to the woods
Do a Shot: every time Tom or her Dad tongue click