9/10
Leave No Trace poignantly flourishes in depicting a dynamically engrossing family bond.
5 July 2018
Indie dramas just keep getting better as the years go by. The freedom to be experimental whilst conveying a captivating story makes for a vastly enthralling cinematic experience than the average Hollywood drama. It's no different here, with director Granik perfectly balancing emotional heft with relentless drama. A father and his young daughter live in isolation within a shrouded urban forest, where one mistake leads them into being found by the local authorities. The eloquence and minimalism in Granik's screenplay allows the story to be told visually. The peaceful environment and rural American culture juxtapose the bustling highways of urban society. Yet they complement each other to create an ecosystem for humanity. The same is applied to this relationship. The father, fearful of being discovered and conforming to the aristocracy of modern civilisation, contrasts with his daughter who yearns for environmental stability. After experiencing a glimpse of normality, she envies them. However, it's the bond between them that truly captivated me. They never argue. They never bicker. They understand one another. Mistakes are forgiven, opportunities are seized. It was honestly beautiful to watch. Foster (who is becoming rather commendable with his work) and McKenzie were sensational together, feeding emotions through just their eyes. Granik utilises plenty of horizonal techniques to illustrate these two characters amongst the overwhelmingly luscious foliage. McDonough's cinematography was gorgeous, bountiful of green filters and natural lighting. My only gripe is the lack of backstory, particularly with the mother, which would've elevated the emotional response for the story's conclusion. But what I really appreciate is the unobtrusive approach to what could've been a sensationalistic plot, and the lack of pretentiousness further cements Granik as a mature director who really should be directing more films. A near perfect drama with outstanding performances that deserves your undivided attention.
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