Linda Movie Review: LEAVE NO TRACE

LEAVE NO TRACE review by Linda Ruiz

Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie play Will and Tom. Will is an army veteran who is suffering from PTSD. He and his 13 year old daughter Tom live in an Oregon State Park. They have a main camp and a few secret camps so as not to attract attention or disrupt the environment around them. Will and Tom actually do weekly drills to make sure they are not leaving any visible signs of their existence. The only time they are seen in town is when they need supplies.  Will visits the VA hospital to get the medications that he needs to cope with his PTSD, which he sells for cash to be able to purchase what the Oregon State Park does not provide. There seems to be a balance to their ideallic existence but we are never told why Will made that decision. That balance is about to be tested as Tom starts developing a mind of her own, as most teenagers will.

While off on her own one day she is spotted by a hiker. She has been taught to be invisible yet she made the subconscious decision to be visible to this hiker. He notifies the authorities and they are both taken in by the police. When Social Services tries to assess how to help them we learn less about Will, but we see Tom continue to blossom and come into her own. Tom really wants to socialize with children her own age and be a part of the world around her.

Their relationship is tested as Tom questions the way they live.  Will realizes that Tom wants to make her way in this world and he has prepared her for this. The time has come to let her do that but has the time come for Will to integrate himself back into society?

The quiet intensity of Ben Foster is what keeps you involved in the story. The natural chemistry between him and Thomasin McKenzie is as real as any parent-child relationship would be in real life. You want to see them have the life they deserve but Leave no Trace, leaves you with more questions than answers. It is a story that will stay with you for a very long time.

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