Roughing it in the Pac NW forests where rain is always cleaning things up
Snared by a review in the NY Times, I read about Debra Granik’s newly released film, Leave No Trace. Not being much of a film goer I never saw her earlier, much lauded, Winter’s Bone, nor am I likely to see this one. A quick read of her Wikipedia page seems to suggest she specializes in films with the topic of low-life Americans of one sort or another – rural people on drugs, loser sorts of America’s large fringes. In this sense it appears she is akin to Kelly Reichardt, though I guess not so minimalist in cinematic style.
Of Leave No Trace I have seen one review, and two production stills. And I wonder how can one make such a film and end up with the shot above? According to the review these two characters have been living rough in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, for some undetermined time, but clearly a fair while. A glance at the above shot shows a pristine guy’s cap and girl’s woolen pull over – apparently never worn until Granik sent them out and said “Action!” The rest of the clothes and set look equally unlived in, fresh out of costumes and set design, all neatly primed for the camera. Ditto the no dirt under finger nails and sparkling clean faces. And yeah, they’re supposed to be roughing it in the woods. Real rough….
Granik, supposedly specializing in stories about marginalized, poor folks presumably has a knowledge of this milieu, though if this is her “vision” I’d have to say she has none. This just isn’t what this world looks like. And if you have no sense of what it looks like, I am highly suspicious of what you might know about people who live lives encrusted with real dirt, and everything that goes with it.
Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
So of curiosity I checked just a little of personal bio on Granik and then Reichardt. They both seem to have grown up in good surroundings, the former in DC fine suburbs, the latter middle-class in Florida. Both went to fancy-ass film schools, suggesting some money was around. And they apparently both like cultural slumming, though it seems they never actually lived it. And it shows.
Clothes fresh from the washer to make them look “used” (for 10 minutes)
For more dirt on fake dirt see these earlier posts:
Or to see what dirt can look like in a film, see any of these: