Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Saarsgard star as radical environmental activists whose act of eco-terror plunges them into a moral maelstrom, in the highly anticipated new film from acclaimed American auteur Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff).
One of the premiere voices in independent cinema, Kelly Reichardt earned her renown on the industry's periphery, working with skeletal resources to craft singular works of poetic realism, each of them arrestingly intimate yet infused with political commentary. Night Moves marks a significant step deeper into political drama.
All of Reichardt's characters — the reunited friends struggling to reconnect in Old Joy, a young woman making her way north in search of work in Wendy and Lucy, the desperately lost homesteaders of Meek's Cutoff — are outsiders of some kind, marginalized by economics or ideology, seeking a place in a less-than-welcoming American landscape. The characters at the centre of Night Moves are no exception, though their actions are more extreme than anything depicted in Reichardt's previous work.
The film follows three clandestine activists scheming to blow up a dam — and the ways their lives unravel in the aftermath. Josh (Jesse Eisenberg), Dena (Dakota Fanning), and Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard) are meant to perform their act of eco-terror and then go their separate ways. But when the full results of their actions come to light, a clean getaway may prove more elusive than they'd anticipated.
This is a film about a plot; it is also a far
more plot-heavy film than we're accustomed
to seeing from this most austere of
auteurs. Perhaps it is best to think of Night
Moves as Reichardt's personal spin on a
genre — but which genre? The film slips
seamlessly from a suspenseful thriller into
a tale of moral consequence. Only a filmmaker
as adept at tone as Reichardt could
make such a transition so fluidly. And only a
filmmaker with Reichardt's integrity could
keep us so captivated, questioning our sympathies
and wondering how to navigate our
political conscience in troubled times.