Leave No Trace review: Kiwi actor Thomasin McKenzie shines in top notch new release

Fresh from its sell-out debut at the NZ International Film Festival, Leave No Trace has now been released in cinemas across the country, the break-out film for rising Kiwi star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie.

Filmmaker Debra Granik knows exactly how to adapt a story for the big screen - her Oscar-nominated Winter's Bone launched the career of Jennifer Lawrence.

Leave No Trace is Granik's adaptation of the book My Abandonment and alongside proven performer Ben Foster is Wellingtonian Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie. It's immediately and stunningly clear that this young actor is full to the brim with a very real talent for connecting with her characters, her co-stars and her audience.

McKenzie plays Tom, the young teenage daughter of PTSD sufferer Will (Foster), a man so very clearly struggling with his demons. To silence them he escapes the real world, taking his daughter with him.

They've been living rough in a national park, camping, foraging, keeping very much to themselves. Evading possible discovery by the authorities is a daily drill, but the inevitable will eventually come home to roost.

The balancing act which emerges is his desperate need to stay off the grid, offset against her growing need to be a part of the world around her, glued together with the unconditional love of a daughter for her troubled father and his in return.

There are three very good reasons to book your seats immediately for Leave No Trace: Debra Granik, Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie, as together they explore this story with such tenderness and restraint, and with such love. This is top notch filmmaking and should not be missed.

Four-and-a-half stars.


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