This is America, too

Leave No Trace

Ends tonight, Aug. 16. Pageant Theatre. Rated PG.
Rated 5.0

With its Oregon setting, its paradoxical parent-child relationship, its vivid sense of kinship with the animal world, and its quietly visionary teenage protagonist, Leave No Trace might well be seen as a keen and vibrant companion piece to 2010’s Lean on Pete, which came through Chico in the spring

By the same token, the new film has deep-seated connections to Winter’s Bone. Both feature the same production team—director Debra Granik and co-writer Ann Rosellini—and unexpectedly resourceful young heroines.

Leave No Trace centers on a profoundly alienated war vet (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter (Thomasin McKenzie). The two are trying to live completely “off the grid”—residing full-time deep within a large and very green park in Portland, Ore.

They seem fully capable of surviving, and maybe even thriving, outside any real social organization. But the social welfare system and its accompanying “safety net” make unwonted challenges and confinements for both of them.

Helicopters making massive deliveries to a Christmas tree farm are one of this haunted film’s images of militarized industry and permanent warfare. But it’s also a film that treats a rabbit, a horse and a dog named Boris as characters worthy of close attention and respect, and presents us with quietly exhilarating discourses on the amorousness of sea horses and the communal warmth emanating from a colony of bees.