Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace ★★★ 1/2

With her latest, Cambridge native Debra Granik proves that her 2010 film, the Ozark-set drama Winter’s Bone, was no flash-in-the-pan. Granik cast Jennifer Lawrence in her first lead role, directing the young actress toward an Oscar nomination, and now she’s seemingly struck acting gold again with her latest discovery, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie; the 18-year-old New Zealander plays Tom, the 13-year-old daughter of haunted loner and military veteran Will (Ben Foster). Lacking electricity, the two have spent years living off the grid in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, scavenging for supplies and secretly camping on heavily wooded public land near Portland. Granik quickly establishes Will and Tom’s routine—and their quiet connection—along with their reliance on each other in order to remain hidden from people who might bring their fragile existence crashing down. But then Tom, who’s never really known companionship outside of her dad, makes a careless mistake that will have lasting consequences for the close-knit clan of two. But if you’re expecting a repeat of Winter’s Bone, bear in mind that this isn’t a plot-driven film involving ticking clocks or dangerous people who wouldn’t think twice about killing to survive. Rather, Granik’s adaptation of a novel by Peter Rock (co-scripted once again with Anne Rosellini) reveals a heart that beats closer to Granik’s Stray Dog—her 2014 documentary about Ron Hall, a biker and Vietnam veteran—that’s another one of her intimate portraits of people struggling to stay alive on the fringes. (At Boston Common, Coolidge Corner, Kendall Square, Seaport, Somerville and West Newton.)

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