Let’s chat for a second about Ben Foster. Back in the day, I used to watch him on the Disney Channel show Flash Forward (yes, I was the target demo at the time). The show was short lived, but the love I obtained for Foster was not. From then on, I followed his career, catching his movies when I could. Over time, especially with films like The Messenger, I realized that he is a damn good actor. So now I really try not to miss his films, even though that often means seeking out indie theaters.
In Leave No Trace, Foster plays a veteran with PTSD who is living off the grid with his tween daughter. They’ve set up an illegal camp on public land in the Pacific Northwest, and live in relative uninterrupted bliss. That is, until their camp is found, and they are forced into a more traditional lifestyle.
Of course, Foster was incredible. His performance was very subtle and the character was well served by his quiet intensity. It’s one of those performances that you almost don’t notice, where he seems to fade into the background, but in a way that shows how effective he is. The one who was at the forefront was the daughter played by Thomasin Harcourt Mckenzie. Now she’s gonna be the one to watch because she owned that whole film. I’m hearing countless comparisons of her to Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone (same director Debra Granik), and while I feel their performances are different, I could see her growing in a similar career trajectory.
Those performances are what made this film for me. I could see how with weaker actors, I woulda been bored outta my mind. It’s not the dynamic type of film that I generally gravitate towards. It was slow and contemplative and requires some patience. But those actors kept me enthralled in a way that I wouldn’t expect in a film like this. I wouldn’t write this off as just another small time indie. There’s some real magic on the screen.
Leave No Trace – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n