'Leave No Trace'
Nobody makes movies like Debra Granik – passionate, humanistic tales of outsiders, outcasts and down-and-outers struggling to get by or survive tough situations in insular communities. And her latest, which watches as a traumatized vet (Ben Foster) and his teen daughter (newcomer Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) live off the grid and on the sly in a public park in Oregon, demonstrates what a deft touch she has with actors. When the cops bust them, the duo are given a chance to work on a farm for room and board. Soon, they're on the run again, in search of a new Garden of Eden. The single father + daughter dynamic was a recurring theme in this year's Sundance – see also: Eighth Grade, Hearts Beat Loud – but Granik's movie foregrounds how that filial bond both sustains these two and ultimately suffocates any attempt at stability. And with any luck, this movie will do for the extraordinary McKenzie what the director's Winter's Bone did for Jennifer Lawrence.