Leave No Trace (2018)

Leave no Trace

There is no trace of any falseness in this father/daughter relationship.

With only a few minutes before the start of Leave No Trace, the only thing I knew about the film was that it starred Ben Foster. Then I realized it was directed by Debra Granik, who made my favorite movie of 2010, Winter’s Bone. This got me excited and eager to watch her newest flick, and I am happy to say it did not let me down at all.

I will leave very little room for what happens, because it is one of those great films that you need to see with little knowledge going into. Therefore, I will just give the basics. Will (Ben Foster) is living on his own with his teenage daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) after returning from military service and suffering from PTSD. The best way to cope for Will is to be as far away from culture as possible, with the exception of his daughter.

Like great film artists, Granik paints with the finest of brushes for characters. Events happen, and they are introduced to people in the world but father and daughter don’t react the same way. The same can also be said for the look of the film, which is luscious to say the least (it had me thinking if any other film had used natural light with negative results, which is not the case here).

Something else about the film I truly enjoyed was the rating of PG. I don’t recall any swearing, but the most is the thematic elements and some thematic material (involving injuries that are bad but not gruesomely so). A friend of mine took his preteen daughter, who I hear is now obsessed with survival skills.

The only two movies I know for sure I have seen Ben Foster in for sure was 3:10 to Yuma (2007) and Hell or High Water (2017). In both films, he was the character we loved to hate on. That is far from the current case. He gives us a damaged guy beyond repair, with only his daughter to possibly help fight his personal demons.

This brings us to Thomasin McKenzie. It is admittedly hard to say how great her performance is, only since I have yet to see her in anything else. It is far easier to say how affective her performance is. We see a character arc in Tom that is so relatable we can almost touch it.  She may not get awards consideration, but Granik did direct Jennifer Lawrence to an Oscar nod in Winter’s Bone. So if anything, it will surely launch her career.

This is one of the year’s very best films.


Overall: Five Stars *****

Let Me In (2010)


Chloe Grace-Moretz and Kodi Smit-Mcphee form one heck of a connection.

I never got around to seeing any of the Twilight films (and don’t plan on it anytime soon), but I doubt it is as impactful as Let Me In.

The key success, I feel, is definetly in the performances by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz. Nowadays, they are still acting (I feel Moretz is more well known). They have a chemistry that words won’t give any justice to. Even all these years later, their careers are far from over.

Smit-McPhee is Owen, a troubled shy 12 year old who lives with his (recently divorced) mom. He is bullied at school, but he is still a good mannered kid. One day, Abby (Moretz) moves in next store with who seems to be her father (Richard Jenkins). She is also a normal girl, despite being a vampire.

The movie (based off the 2008 film from Sweden, Let the Right One in), is meant to be seen as a horror flick. It is more than that. Of course, there is a lot of blood, but the best scenes lie mainly in the moments with just Owen and Abby. It plays as a coming of age story, a romance (I am a sap for puppy love), and thriller.

Parents, the R rating is justified, as there is a lot of violence (there is also partial nudity when Owen is looking through his telescope at a neighbor, but it is very brief). High School and above.

As noted before, it is based off of a movie from Sweden called Let the Right One in. As of this writing, I have not seen it. A friend of mine said it is more superior than Let Me In. Since Let Me In is a delightful treat, I will probably have in store for me a smorgasbord when I see the original.


Overall: Four Stars ****