Tracker Pixel for Entry

Granik Returns with Compelling “Leave No Trace”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | June 27th, 2018

Filmmaker Debra Granik’s “Leave No Trace,” based on Peter Rock’s novel “My Abandonment,” demonstrates some spiritual and stylistic kinship with the director’s tremendous “Winter’s Bone,” but the new film stakes out the emotionally intense territory shared by a father and his daughter living off the grid as a means of self-care/self-preservation and survival. Ben Foster turns in a predictably excellent performance as Will, a veteran with serious PTSD. Will’s thirteen-year-old daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie), it would appear, is the single motivation and responsibility that keeps the man’s demons at bay. Together, they live quietly, furtively, and out of sight of institutions, authority figures, and most other aspects of society.

Building on interests explored in “Winter’s Bone,” Granik doubles down on the instinctive, often unspoken rhythms of committed outsiders, and the opening scenes of the film illustrate the lengths to which Will and Tom must go to protect their anonymity and independence. Illegally camping in Forest Park to the west of Portland, Oregon, father and daughter work in tandem, complementing one another without much need for verbalized instruction. It’s the movie’s first sign of Granik’s consistently remarkable way with her actors, suggesting an almost documentary-like verisimilitude regarding the rituals used by the characters to stay off the radar.

Of course, the primary external conflict of the story manifests in the inevitable interactions Will and Tom have outside of their cultivated bubble of privacy. Those scenes, constructed by Granik to maximize the simultaneous wariness and curiosity aroused in Tom, mirror the movie’s underlying psychological conundrum: no matter how close the bond between father and daughter, Tom’s desire to learn more of the world places her relationship with Will in a position as precarious as their legal status. Granik circles that growing divergence with a series of scenes in which the heartbreaking reality of Tom’s responsibility to Will puts a lump in the throat of any parent who has witnessed the emotional and intellectual growth of a child coming into independence and personhood.

A number of writers and viewers have already remarked on the basic decency with which Granik chooses to portray nearly every person who crosses paths with Tom and Will (very far from the dark menace faced by Jennifer Lawrence’s Ree Dolly in “Winter’s Bone”). In one sense, that choice is a testament to the filmmaker’s sophistication; nuance can be challenging in the absence of a concrete antagonist. Not even the representatives of the bureaucracies Will so strongly opposes betray any sense of incompetence or apathy, and the device sparks us to deeper questions about the tough hand Tom and Will have been dealt and whether there is any way back for the latter.

One of the ideas best expressed in “Leave No Trace” is the extent to which Tom and Will parent one another. Very obviously, Will has brought up his offspring with a level of skepticism and fear that suggests an arguably unhealthy -- or at least deeply limited -- view of community. Granik will challenge Will’s position in several ways, and the presence of Dale Dickey, so unforgettable in “Winter’s Bone,” is but one suggestion that Tom might be better served by opportunities to interact with humans beyond her dad. Newcomer McKenzie’s performance is so remarkable, not only does she match the skill of the always-invested Foster, she renders Tom’s growth with an astonishing and vivid sense of the changes that test her willingness to continue the status quo. We watch her grow up before our very eyes.

“Leave No Trace” will begin a theatrical run on June 29, 2018.

Recently in:

FARGO - Rain or shine, the Fargo Antiques ROADSHOW is scheduled to last all day on June 1 at Bonanzaville. The show is part of a five-city tour, and the venues are chosen for their historic significance. As all tickets are…

Shodan has been called the “scariest search engine on the internet.” It has the ability to expose and allow access to many devices including servers, computers, phones, fridges, traffic lights, security cameras and even control…

Wednesday, May 29, 5-8 p.m.Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave N, FargoThis event is an open house style maker’s session. Participants will receive an 11 inch canoe model and access to a supply buffet. Artist Hosts will be available…

Editorial

Congrats grads!

by Sabrina Hornung

It’s that time of year again. Recent grads are unleashed and set out to make their mark on the world. It’s funny how something can be simultaneously liberating and terrifying. If we could spread any pearls of wisdom to these…

Guns, Lockdowns, and Panic ButtonsThe girl is now a seventh grader at Sandy Hook Elementary. In 2012 she was the only survivor of her first grade class of 21 in a mass school shooting. Among the first words by this six-year-old to…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

Quiche is a great addition to any brunch. It’s almost like a wardrobe staple that you can dress up or dress down. I made one for my 90-year-old grandma for mother’s day last weekend. She’s a good critic when I try out a new…

There is a golden oldie by Peter Allen called “Everything Old is New Again”, and that is certainly true about vinyl records. It is no secret that vinyl records are no longer just your parents’ musical format. Their…

Impossibly beautiful lead performers underline the YA fantasy aspects of Ry Russo-Young’s translation of “The Sun Is Also a Star,” based on Nicola Yoon’s bestseller. Russo-Young’s sharp handling of the 2017 adaptation of…

The Plains Art Museum is ready to take you back in time – or forward, if you prefer – for their 23rd annual Spring Gala. The theme for this year’s event, which takes place on Friday, May 3, is Time Machine.The Spring Gala is…

Countless examples can be found throughout the history of great art that was only recognized as such after the life of the artist that created it. Such is true of Georges Bizet’s opera "Carmen."  While its reception during his…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comThink & Drink is coming to Fargo! Organized by Humanities North Dakota, Think & Drink is a happy hour series that hosts a facilitated public conversation about big issues and ideas. Lead by a…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

Last Word

Meritocracy is a lie

by HPR Contributor

By Gary Olsonolsong@moravian.eduIn 2017, Sociology Professor Rachel Sherman wrote “Uneasy Street: The Anxiety of Affluence,” a book which drew from 50 in-depth interviews with uber-wealthy New Yorkers in order to obtain a…