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Leave No Trace is a 2018 American drama film directed by Debra Granik and written by Granik and Anne Rosellini, based on the book My Abandonment by Peter Rock.[2] The plot follows a veteran father with PTSD (Ben Foster) who lives in the forest with his young daughter (Thomasin McKenzie). It premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival,[3][4] and was theatrically released by Bleecker Street in the United States, on June 29, 2018.[5] The film received universal critical acclaim, with praise for the performances of Foster and McKenzie, and is one of few films to hold an approval rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Debra Granik
Produced by
Written by
  • Debra Granik
  • Anne Rosellini
Based on My Abandonment
by Peter Rock
Music by Dickon Hinchliffe
Cinematography Michael McDonough
Edited by Jane Rizzo
Distributed by Bleecker Street
Release date
  • January 20, 2018 (2018-01-20) (Sundance)
  • June 29, 2018 (2018-06-29) (United States)
Running time
109 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $7.1 million[1]



Will, an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD, lives with his thirteen-year-old daughter, Tom, in a public park outside Portland, Oregon. They live in almost total isolation, only entering town for occasional food and supplies. Will makes their money by selling his VA-issued painkillers to other veterans.

After Tom is accidentally spotted in the woods by a jogger, officers arrest them and place them into social services. They are given food and a house on a tree farm in rural Oregon, on the condition that Will abides by the rules of the home owner and social services. Will begrudgingly begins to work on the settlement packaging pine trees, while Tom begins school and interacts with local kids her age in a 4H club. Will feels oppressed by others' presence and tells Tom they are returning to the woods. She follows reluctantly.

Will and Tom catch a ride north with a long-haul trucker, who lets them out, at Will's direction, on the edge of trackless woods. They bushwhack in a direction Will expects to lead to an unoccupied cabin, but cold and darkness force them to build a makeshift tent to survive the night. The next day, they find an abandoned cabin and move in.

Will leaves to find food but does not return for some time. Tom walks out to look for him, eventually finding him unconscious at the bottom of a hill, presumably from a slip and fall. She gets help from some locals passing by, who take them back to their mobile home community. One of them suggests taking Will to a hospital, but Tom, knowing that going to a hospital could mean going back into social services, refuses. A local woman calls a friend of hers, a former Army medic (and fellow PTSD sufferer), who gets Will on the road to recovery. He also lends Will his own therapy dog to ease his mental adjustment to society.

Will and Tom stay in the community for some time while Will’s injuries heal. Tom likes this new home, and hopes that she and her father can stay there permanently. Will, however, continues to feel overwhelmed by social interaction and insists that they leave again. Tom protests this, telling him "the same thing that’s wrong with you isn’t wrong with me". When Will leaves anyway, Tom says that she can not go with him this time, and needs to try to live a normal life. They tearfully hug and part ways.


  • Ben Foster as Will, Tom’s father
  • Thomasin McKenzie as Tom, Will’s daughter
  • Jeff Kober as Mr. Walters, a tree farm owner
  • Dale Dickey as Dale, the leader of the RV park
  • Dana Millican as Jean Bauer
  • Alyssa Lynn as Valerie
  • Ryan Joiner as Tiffany



Principal photography took place during the spring of 2017 in Portland, Oregon.[6] Eagle Fern Park in Clackamas County was used for the main forest scenes.[7]

Musicians Michael Hurley and Marisa Anderson have a cameo in the film.


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 100% based on 188 reviews, and an average rating of 8.6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Leave No Trace takes an effectively low-key approach to a potentially sensationalistic story — and further benefits from brilliant work by Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie."[8] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 88 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Leave No Trace (2018)". The Numbers. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  2. ^ Busch, Anita (February 22, 2017). "'My Abandonment' From 'Winter's Bone' Director Lands Financing From Bron, First Look". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  3. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 29, 2017). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils Full 2018 Features Lineup". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  4. ^ "Leave No Trace". Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  5. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 27, 2018). "Debra Granik's 'Leave No Trace' Lands At Bleecker Street – Sundance". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  6. ^ Turnquist, Kristi (January 22, 2018). "Movies with Oregon roots get Sundance Film Festival buzzing". OregonLive. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  7. ^ Mohan, Marc (June 20, 2018). "Story of father and girl found living in Forest Park is now a movie". OregonLive. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  8. ^ "Leave No Trace (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  9. ^ "Leave No Trace Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 20, 2018.

External linksEdit