Ben Foster—currently tied with Ethan Hawke for the title of World’s Most Improved Actor—is phenomenal in Leave No Trace as Will, a homeless vet living in an Oregon park with his daughter, Tom (an incredible Thomasin McKenzie).
Will trains his daughter to live off the land—and how not to be seen. When a jogger sees and reports them, the two wind up in the social-services system, undergoing a barrage of tests and eventually being relocated to a work commune. While Will simply can’t adjust, Tom starts liking being indoors. When Will takes them back into the forest, their two worlds start to truly separate.
Directed and co-written by Debra Granik, the movie poses some serious questions about PTSD should be handled, and what freedom really is in America. Foster is tragically sad as Will, a man we know very little about, although we know something has really messed him up. McKenzie will break your heart as the loving daughter who only knows the wilderness, but wants to know more.
Leave No Trace is of the summer’s—and year’s—best films.
Leave No Trace is now playing at Century Theatres at The River and XD (71800 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage; 760-836-1940).