Writer/director Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone) offers up a fascinating example of taking source material—in this case, Peter Rock’s novel My Abandonment—and giving it a beautiful re-interpretation. The core premise remains the same: Tom (Thomasin McKenzie), an adolescent girl, lives an itinerant, foraging life with her single father (Ben Foster), a military veteran, in the Oregon woods. When the two are discovered, they are thrust back into a civilization they’re not interested in joining. Granik refuses to turn unfeeling bureaucracy into the villain of this story—government officials and others who work with Tom and her dad are always trying to do the right thing—allowing the focus to remain on that central relationship. McKenzie and Foster are both wonderful, conveying the depth of connection forged by the circumstances that have them depending almost entirely on one another. It’s in the third act, however—where Granik diverges radically from Rock’s novel—where she finds something almost heartbreakingly graceful in the tension between not feeling part of this world, and wanting a world that you can feel a part of.
Director: Debra Granik
Producer: Anne Harrison, Linda Reisman, Anne Rosellini, Michael Bloom, Jason Cloth, Aaron Gilbert, Annie Marter, Adam Pincus and Andrew Pollack
Cast: Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie, Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey, Isaiah Stone, Michael Draper, Dana Millican and Ayanna Berkshire