2013 / Director. Kelly Reichardt.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
As I approached NIGHT MOVES there was a lot going against it. The title is terrible and uninspired (Gene Hackman's NIGHT MOVES owns the honour) and the synopsis suggested an eco-warrior type of preach. Add to that the fact that I have never warmed to Jesse Eisenberg as a performer (his "range" is debatable). What the film did have going for it, however, was an appealing wilderness aesthetic, the allure of a dark brooding plot and direction from Kelly Reichardt, whose previous films I have loved (Wendy & Lucy, Meek's Cutoff and Old Joy). Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard play three environmental activists who plot to blow up a dam wall, which is part of a wider hydroelectricity scheme. The film follows their preparations right through to the execution and then documents the aftermath. Thankfully there is no eco-message and the film isn't trying to be some kind of cautionary tale. Instead it depicts the characters are environmental terrorists and does not cast a forgiving light over them. The performances are all good... yes, even Jesse Eisenberg, who proves that less is more. He offers a subdued and withdrawn turn as the film's main protagonist and his character is lost in a perpetually deep seated state of inner-reflection. Kelly Reichardt has created a slow, drawn out drama and allows the mood and atmosphere to emphasis the story. In fact the characters almost seem insignificant as they play second fiddle to an overall melancholic and foreboding textural ambience (does that sound wanky?). No doubt NIGHT MOVES will test some people's patience but if you're familiar with Reichardt's films then you will relish her style.... but I'm still struggling with the title. LOL