Summary: Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), have lived off the grid for years in the forests of Portland, Oregon. When their idyllic life is shattered, both are put into social services. After clashing with their new surroundings, Will and Tom set off on a harrowing journey back to their wild homeland.
Debra Granik, the director, treats the story with a feather-light touch, while still grounding the film in an almost documentary-style reality. She doesn’t “hammer things home,” she lets things unfold. The critique of society is there in the material, but it’s implicit, not explicit. How the culture treats its wounded warriors is a disgrace, but—on the flip side— Tom is a child. She doesn’t go to school. The culture needs to care about her too. As Will continues to resist, even in the face of kindness, Tom is almost torn in two, by her curiosity about the world, and her attachment to her father.
Granik shows great insight into the struggles of those who choose to “opt out,” those who just want to be left alone, those who literally can’t “fit in” to the larger world. At its very best, it is an immensely moving portrait of a father and daughter who love each other, and who can’t bear to be apart.
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini
Thomasin McKenzie, Ben Foster, Jeffery Rifflard, Michael Draper, Derek John Drescher
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