No actor plays “damaged” better than Ben Foster. I loved the movie Hell or High Water, which pitted a poor Texas family against evil bankers. Chris Pine is a great actor and he was fully matched by Foster as his over-the-top, impulsive, crazy brother who makes an ultimate sacrifice so that Pine’s character can save the family ranch for his kids. In Leave No Trace, Foster plays a different kind of damaged as a vet living with nightmares. The complicating factor is that he has his teen-aged daughter with him. Leave No Trace was written, directed, and produced by the same team that made Winter’s Bone, one of the most brutal realist movies I’ve ever seen. They clearly know how to tell stories of young women in difficult situations involving families, poverty, mental illness, and other challenges. Winter’s Bone is when I first saw Jennifer Lawrence and it was clear in that movie that she was destined to be a star. I would say the same of Thomasin McKenzie who plays Foster’s daughter in Leave No Trace. She is believably worried about her dad and wanting to settle down. This is a quiet movie with lots of emotion right below the surface. One of McKenzie’s last lines in the movie is “I know you would stay if you could.” It just about broke my heart when she said it, her voice full of care and worry and conviction. I keep thinking about this movie with all its nuances and complexities. I highly recommend it.
I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.