Leave No Trace: Film Review

This weekend it’s the Sundance London film festival, which brings some of the highlights of the Sundance Film Festival to London. One of those movies on the bill is Leave No Trace, a drama starring Ben Foster.

Foster plays a father and veteran named Will who lives in the woods of Oregon with his daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie). It is illegal to live on public property, so they move every so often and keep themselves hidden, living off the land and their survival instincts, with the exception of the occasional supermarket supply run. One day, they are spotted and the authorities swoop in and the pair are put into the system, with them being allocated a house and Tom being enrolled in school. However, Will doesn’t want to adapt to this new way of life.

Leave No Trace is slow-moving and feels rather long but it is engrossing and tells a moving father and daughter story. At first it gave me vibes of Captain Fantastic as Viggo Mortensen’s character also lived in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of kids, but this much more gritty, sad, and felt more realistic.

Foster gives heavy, serious, moving performances every time and Leave No Trace was no different, but I was most impressed by McKenzie, who is only 17 years old, as she holds her own against him and brings more emotion to the piece, as she is fed up of them continually moving and wants somewhere to call home. You really feel for her, and the audience’s loyalties lie with her. The duo have a really close bond and this connection between the actors was very believeable.

It feels like not much occurs in Leave No Trace but it all happens on a micro, character level. We never get the complete picture about what’s up with Will, but you learn enough to get why he’s the way he is. It is a very interesting and compelling piece but not one that will appeal to all.

Leave No Trace is an impressive father-daughter study and the performances are top notch. I highly recommend you check it out at Sundance London.

Set for UK release later in June 2018


  1. […] services intervene and try to get them to live a conventional way of life. You can read my review here. You can buy tickets for Sundance London, which kicks off on Thursday 31st May, […]


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