Night Moves (2013)

Night Moves (2013)

written by Jonathan Raymond and Kelly Reichardt

directed by Kelly Reichardt

Two young environmentalists (Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning) hire an ex-Marine (Peter Sarsgaard) to blow up a dam in Oregon. They approach their target under cover of darkness, place the explosives, and go back to their regular lives. But the next morning they realize a man camping nearby has drowned in the flood, a direct consequence to their seemingly foolproof act of ecoterrorism.

Night Moves may be too slow for mainstream audiences, but I found it as fascinating as writer/director Kelly Reichardt’s previous film, Meek’s Cutoff (2010), which similarly applied her own style of contemplative suspense to another established genre, the Western. This is a minimalist thriller, silent and brooding. Motivations and backstories are never completely clear, mostly expressed through the characters’ expressions and body language. And even though a particular turn of events proves somewhat hard to believe, Night Moves stays with you long after its unconventional final shot. More than a story about idealism gone awry, Reichardt invites us to question whether there’s even a point to it after all.

Rating: ***

Carlos I. Cuevas