Josh and Dena, two young environmental activists, are planning a large scale act to force the world to think about what they're doing to the environment. They pull in Harmon, a man with a sketchy past, to help them pull off their big plan. However, unforeseen consequences bring a whole host of guilt, paranoia and other problems, and their ultimate act will change themselves more than the world around them.Written by
Featured at the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival, Night Moves is a film directed by the queen of slow burn narrative Kelly Reichardt. Reichardt uses space and tone instead of plot and character to tell this story of eco terrorism. Organic farmers Josh (Jesse Eisenberg) and Dena (Dakota Fanning) buy a boat and travel deep in the woods to meet Josh's friend Harmon (Sarsgaard). The three begin to set into motion a plan to blow up a hydroelectric dam at a nearby lake. After they succeed they learn their act caused the death of a camper. The guilt begins to cause Dena to rethink their actions. Josh must find a way to keep her quiet before she talks and they all end up in jail. Reichardt (Meek's Cutoff, Wendy And Lucy) is known for her lightly plotted pieces. She works within a realm of filmmaking in which the story is told not through actions but through suspense. In Night Moves, the majority of the film is the planning of the explosion. However, this kind of storytelling seems to stunt emotions of characters. These three are supposed to be passionate enough activists to even come up with this plan but they all walk around sleepy/dead-eyed and talk in monotone voices. Why are they doing this if they really don't seem to care? This doesn't match what they are planning to do and makes it confusing for an audience. Eisenberg (The Double) is the most passionate of the three, but he really is more angry than anything. His brood is exceptional in this film as he makes Josh into a man who seems he will never be content with anything- even when their plan seems to go off without a hitch. Sarsgaard (Blue Jasmine) fits nicely into the role of Harmon, an ex- marine who lives in a trailer out in the middle of nowhere. With his long hair and slight smile he is just handsome enough to charm his way through anything and just sleazy enough not to be trusted. Fanning (The Secret Life Of Bees) plays Dena with a confounding amount of nonchalance. One might wonder why her character is even involved with this plan. All she seems to be is a sad little rich girl who spends Daddy's money on hundreds of pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Even when Dena's guilt has become "too much for her to bear"- she doesn't really seem too worried about it externally. Fanning has been choosing more mature roles lately but it is unclear if she herself has matured in her craft- it will be interesting to see what she does next. Night Moves is indeed a beautiful film that has stunning shots of what majestic Oregon lakes and forests have to offer. The emotion from the performances does not match the situation at hand making it a dry, uneven and drawn out film. The build up is slow and intense but overall you may find yourself feeling more passionate about what is happening than about the characters.
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