Everything's different now.
The Gist: Will and Tom are father and daughter living rough in vast public woodlands outside Portland, Oregon. He's a widower and a war veteran, internally wrestling with PTSD and taking comfort in his survivalist lifestyle. She's a bright and devoted teenager, absorbing and living by her dad's instruction, while seemingly not looking beyond her immediate existence. Best friends as well as family, their bond runs far deeper than the few words that pass between them. But when local authorities track them down and seek to integrate them into the wider human world, the pair's unique connection threatens to founder along with their wilderness existence.
The Juice: Director Debra Granik brought Jennifer Lawrence to prominence in her harsh 2010 drama Winter's Bone. She might well have just done the same for Thomasin McKenzie, who gives a winsome and utterly truthful performance here as daughter Tom, a girl whose devotion to her father will be inevitably tested. Just as impressive is Ben Foster's Will, an understated but heartbreaking portrayal of the psychological devastation inflicted by war. Affecting and tender, their relationship (with its mounting complexities) is the heart of this poignant film. But Granik's storytelling is also an unshowy star, wasting not a single shot and capturing the Oregon forests in all their dank, wintry beauty. Dickon Hinchcliff's haunting, bluegrass-tinged soundtrack is the perfect melancholy accompaniment to these subtly unfolding events.
The Judgement: 8.5/10. Leave No Trace tells a similar story to 2016's Captain Fantastic, but with all Hollywood artifice stripped away. Much is suggested, but little specified, about the central pair's backstory, while their struggles (joint and individual) are conveyed with enormous compassion. Cleanly shot natural settings, naturalistic acting and spare dialogue - this is a beautifully evocative piece of film-making, inspired by a true story and mining depths of truth in its characters. Impressive and moving stuff.