In the long-awaited return to narrative for RiverRun’s 2014 Emerging Master honoree Debra Granik, whose powerhouse Ozark-set drama Winter’s Bone earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and made a household name of Jennifer Lawrence, a war veteran and his 13 year-old daughter are attempting to live peacefully off the grid in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon. The always compelling Ben Foster (The Messenger, Hell or High Water) plays the former, Will, a character clearly shaken by the after-effects of a traumatic combat experience and trying to manage his condition constructively by instilling a do no harm, survivalist sensibility in his mindful daughter Tom. Under his rigorous guidance they stay out of sight, live off the land, and abide by the sort of ecological and psychic mantra suggested by the film’s title.

For her part, Tom is a more than worthy understudy, though with each glimpse of the urbane world she is more strongly fascinated by the human connections possible therein. Just as Granik provided a relatively unknown, 20 year-old Jennifer Lawrence with a breakout role in Winter’s Bone eight years ago, she may have introduced the world to an equally gifted young star here in Thomasin McKenzie, the New Zealand-born teen who plays Tom. It is not long before the two are forcibly returned to society, where they make an honest go of it for a time but bristle at the bureaucracy, and Will must decide which system is best for his daughter’s long-term well-being, even if it means sacrificing his own ideals. In this astounding, white-knuckler of a family drama, one small mistake threatens to derail their lives forever.

–Christopher Holmes

Film generously sponsored by:

FarmToFeet      GOPC