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Leave No Trace

Initially I hadn't been thrilled by the notion of this film; I think because I feared (completely unjustifiably) that it would be purveying trite truths of one sort or another. But several of my friends reviewed it favorably, and finally last night I got to see it--and really loved it.

It's a totally different kind of film from Winter's Bone (by the same director), a very **gentle** story, and quiet, even though elements of the story aren't gentle at all. In fact, all through the movie there were moments when, primed by what Hollywood often does, I was on the edge of my seat expecting something horrible to happen--and it didn't.

The situation is that Tom (a girl) has been living with her PTSD-suffering war-veteran father in a national park, foraging, growing their own food, collecting rainwater--and occasionally going into town to buy things (which they finance by dad selling the medication he gets from the VA to other vets). They get found out and forced to reassimilate into society. Tom is adjusting, but her dad is not, and he announces they're taking off again. Reluctantly, she leaves with him, but things are much harder and grimmer this time around.

What I loved about it most were the moments with animals and the sense of how healing and enriching sharing time and space with animals can be. There's a scene where the dad is stroking a horse, and the horse rests its head against the dad, and the dad rests his head against the horse, and they're just still together for a moment, and oh my heart! Same with Tom stroking a rabbit she finds hopping along the road and returns to its owner; same later on when an older woman shows her the miracle of a hive of bees.

The beauty of the natural world resonates through the whole film, too, but the film understands that it's beauty that will kill you if you're underprepared--and Tom and her father understand that; in fact, everyone in the movie understands the situation and everyone else pretty well: the problem is what people can live with.

Thinking about everyone understanding brings up another thing I liked about the film: there wasn't really a villain. Even the state isn't villainous: it tries its best to accommodate Tom and her dad's unique needs within a framework of what's societally acceptable. It's just that it won't work for the dad.

I think that's the saddest thing in the film--that the dad just can't feel at ease in, apparently, any situation near other people, except his daughter, whom he loves very much, whereas she's growing into a person who wants to be near other people, though she loves her dad very much. But I'd call the ending happy: it's a good one for Tom, and it's set up in the film as one that's not doom-and-death for the dad either.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/902220.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
gracegiver
Dec. 31st, 2018 03:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the review. I saw it come up on Amazon and thought it might be something I need to see.
asakiyume
Dec. 31st, 2018 03:39 pm (UTC)
I recommend it. The only cautionary note I should maybe add is that I may have an overly optimistic view of the future for the dad. I think it's set up and supported by the film, but I can see other people not reading the same way I do.
gracegiver
Dec. 31st, 2018 03:46 pm (UTC)
An overly optimistic viewpoint right now sounds refreshing.

Have you seen Wendy and Lucy? It's the story of a young girl's hardships, including losing her beloved dog as she travels to Alaska for work.
It's so well done with very little expense.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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