Leave No Trace 2018 1hr 59 mins Cert: PG
Director: Debra Granik
A deeply intelligent story of love and survival in the wild.
A tale of a father and daughter living off the grid in the forests of the Pacific North-West of America proves the perfect material for Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik. This empathic portrayal of marginalised outsiders conjures a low-key drama of cultural and generational divides that is alternately gripping and melancholic, and is always shot through with the unmistakable ring of truth.
They have built a secret camp with tarps and rudimentary cooking implements, making their own fires. They share a tent. They read books. They have military-style drills for staying undercover. It seems like a perfect, even Edenic setup. But then Tom carelessly allows herself to be spotted by a hiker and things take a wrong turn.
When they are picked up by the authorities, they are subject to seemingly callous, soulless, psychiatric assessments and bureaucratic intrusions.
But getting picked up and then escaping is also part of their way of life. They have clearly planned for what happens. They have to accept – or pretend to accept – the social services’ remedial plans for them before they can slip away once more, but Tom is becoming increasingly unsure. Each time away from the wild brings her into contact with a society that she rather likes.