Director: Kelly Reichardt
Writers: Jon Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Dakota Fanning, Jess Eisenberg,
USA 112min Thriller
Kelly Reichardt’s last film Meek’s Cutoff was a poetic rendering of the classic Western. NIGHT MOVES is billed as an ‘environmental thriller’ and set in contemporary Oregon following a trio of eco-warriors raising awareness of energy consumption in the local Rogue Valley.
The tone is sombre, but don’t expect to wade through endless environmental issues: Reichardt’s treatment offers little sympathy for these characters from the outset as we watch them jostle for position and power in ‘committee’ meetings. It soon emerges that Dena (Dakota Fanning), Josh (Jesse Eisenberg) and Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard) are not the nicest people or the closest of friends either.
The first half deals with the meticulous planning of their offensive in a local beauty spot where they are at pains to keep the operation clandestine. After an unsettling start to proceedings, they complete their mission and return to their normal lives. This is where it gets interesting and shifts in tone from drama to psychological thriller as unforeseen circumstances unleash a wave of media attention provoking unexpected reactions in Dena and Josh. While Peter Sarsgaard’s excellently chilled performance as Harmon recedes into the background, the focus switches to Dena and her gradually disintegrating personality as she draws her friends and family into the picture very much against the wishes of the others, who attempt to distance themselves with dramatic results. Tension is heightened by a skilfully taut original score from Jeff Grace (We Are What We Are).
Reichardt weaves plenty of texture into her narrative with astute observations on the current state of American politics while her characters play out their acutely-observed and increasingly edgy existence. Night Moves is an immersive thriller and Jesse Eisenberg’s turn as Josh stands out as a well-crafted study of paranoia and the corrosive effects of guilt. Whether it will remain in your memory to same extent as Gene Hackman’s 1975 film of the same title, remains to be seen. MT
VENICE REVIEW 2013
NIGHT MOVES comes to DVD/Blu on 11 January 2015