For a superbly acted and impressively produced movie, watch Leave No Trace, now available on Amazon Prime, Google Play and Youtube, after having appeared earlier this year at selected theaters.
On the surface the story’s premise would seem unpromising and prey to dramatic props to get an audience’s interest. A father and his teenage daughter are living undetected in a public forest outside Portland, Oregon. Will is a war veteran and a widower who suffers from psychological wounds. He wants no part of traditional society. His daughter, Tom, is devoted to her father, and they forge an utterly unconventional life together, totally immersed in nature. He home-schools her in his own way. No untoward behavior is even hinted at. Although intense, Will is not an emotional time bomb but rather a loving, troubled man living the only way he can after what he’s gone through. Remarkably, there are no grisly flashbacks, a tribute to the truism that the unseen can be more powerful than the seen.
Then, inevitably, they are discovered and come face-to-face with law enforcement and social services.
Here is where the moviemakers astound you: There are no heavy-handed Dickensian villains cruelly disrupting an idyllic life, but instead all-too-plausible, well-intentioned individuals trying to do right by both people.
The film skillfully and with remarkable emotional sensitivity conveys how the father will never adjust, while depicting his curious daughter discovering a whole new and not unwelcome world.
Leave No Trace is a powerful and welcome example of true cinematic excellence on all levels.