Release Date: June 6, 2014
Running Time: 113 minutes
Night Moves may chronicle the events leading up to and after an eco-terrorist attack on a Pacific Northwestern hydroelectric dam, but director Kelly Reichardt’s tightly drawn character study isn’t concerned with advocating or condemning green politics. Instead, Reichardt employs the nighttime bombing, undertaken by environmental extremists—played by Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard—as a MacGuffin. She’s solely interested in how the three address the moral quandary of making a statement that is not only very public but too theatrical in nature to change many minds, as one observer notes. Reichardt focuses on Eisenberg’s Josh. He’s not necessarily the heart and soul of the group, but he is the one who seems to be the most careful about the planning and execution of the attack. Eisenberg is an actor whose performances always seem fueled by stress and anxiety, and those traits serve him well in Night Moves as paranoia begins to inform every post-attack decision that his seemingly guilt-ridden eco-terrorist makes. As Reichardt tells Night Moves from Josh’s perspective, we know no more or no less than he does. Maybe his paranoia is justified. It doesn’t matter. What counts is how he handles himself in the wake of the attack and whether he has the instincts to survive. The problem with Josh, though, is that there’s not really very much to him. He’s not defined by politics, or much else beyond his actions for that matter. While Eisenberg and Reichardt refuse to paint Josh as the face of a particular cause, they don’t give us anything else to latch onto. He’s just a frustrated activist who mistakes his planned act of destruction as a heroic step forward for his cause. The same can be said of Dakota Fanning’s Dena, who is cut from the same cloth as Josh. A stabilizing presence, Peter Sarsgaard blesses Harmon with a personality. Unfortunately, Harmon’s not around long enough to draw us fully into the predicament he and his colleagues find themselves in. This is a shame: Night Moves would have been more compelling had it been Harmon who endures a psychological breakdown.
Aired: June 5, 2014
Web site: https://www.facebook.com/NightMovesFilm