Leave No Trace (2018)
June 30, 2018 4:08 PM - Subscribe

A father and his thirteen year-old daughter are living an isolated existence in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon, when a small mistake derails their lives forever.

Peter Bradshaw: They have to accept – or pretend to accept – the social services’ remedial plans for them before they can slip away once more. There is a great sequence in which they attend a church service, blandly complaisant, not making a fuss, not standing out, biding their time. Or rather it is Will who is biding his time; Tom isn’t so sure. Each time away from the wild brings Tom into contact with a society that she rather likes.

Richard Brody: In effect, the story of “Leave No Trace” is: white people keep giving a white man houses. It’s a story of privilege, of sorts—but of bitterly earned privilege that arises, in significant measure, from his status as a military veteran.
The drama of “Leave No Trace” is diffuse and vague, but its lack of specificity opens the door to the powerful abstraction of a central and decisive idea. Granik’s film suggests that, largely out of view, the country is buried in soul-wreckage that results directly from its two decades of bad wars. Without any overt expressions of ideology or political discussion, of resentments or hatreds, she shows the ravaged ground in which poisonous politics grow.

Peter Travers: It's risky calling a movie a work of art – the phrase can make audiences think they'll be taking medicine, swallowing something good for them when they'd rather be gorging on multiplex junk food. But there's no better term to describe the urgency and unbridled emotion of Leave No Trace. You don't just watch it as much as you absorb it until the film's ebb and flow become a part of you.
posted by catch as catch can (3 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't seen this yet, but I'm really interested because 1. It looks great and 2. Seattle is also grappling* with how to deal with a large and growing number of unhoused folks living in urban woods.

* And by "grappling" I mean "arguing with other people who have homes and passing the buck around various city agencies and nonprofits."
posted by lunasol at 5:07 PM on July 2

Very much enjoyed this film, although the constant intrusions of the modern bourgeois state on the characters' lives, which Will (the father) clearly and rightfully detests, are pretty distressing. The lovely hippie / outsider community that we meet at the end of the film is just about an anachronism these days.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 7:46 PM on July 11

I saw this last night at the TIFF cinema and it's easily one of the best films I've seen in years, just so moving without being at all sentimental or melodramatic. I found myself in tears throughout, out of love for the characters, and the goodness of the people they meet (notably, there are no villains; even the state is by and large an agent of kindness). A devastating film, but hopeful.
I'm amazed though how few Metafilter people appear to have seen it, whereas over-hyped schlock like Annihilation or Hereditary gets like a hundred posts debating its profundity.
posted by Flashman at 2:00 PM on July 14

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