Magazine article Screen International

Night Moves

Magazine article Screen International

Night Moves

Article excerpt

Dir: Kelly Reichardt. US. 2013. 112mins

A well sustained, beautifully shot, though rather dour environmental drama-thriller, Night Moves sees Kelly Reichardt veer away from the left-field drama of her earlier films and try her hand - with mixed results - at Hitchcockian thrills (for a brief portion of the film at least), and while the strong indie star cast will help the film's profile it is a film unlikely to break out into the mainstream.

Dakota Fanning is impressive and smart, and has the charisma to carry more of the film.

The expected Kelly Reichardt touches are there - beautifully framed tracking shots, a fascination in nature as a striking backdrop (it is closer to her first film Old Joy in that respect) and a series of serious and determined protagonists - and there is a smart contemporary edge as it dwells on three environmental activists planning to make a grandstanding gesture.

The best part of Night Moves is the slow and careful build up to what this threesome are actually doing and planning, to the degree that the initially well sustained tense drama is edge-of-the-seat stuff, but ends up being unpicked and diminished by a rather simplistic and oddly unconvincing final third as doubts about what they have done emerge and there are dangerous divisions between these green terrorists.

The casting of Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard will help draw attention to the film and help its promotional abilities, and it will likely be a strong seller internationally, but after Meek's Cutoff (also a Venice competitor) expectations were high for Reichardt's next film, and there is a niggling sense that Night Moves fails to deliver on a number of counts.

The film opens intriguingly with Oregon-based Josh (Eisenberg) and Dena (Fanning) spending rather secretive time together - they may be boyfriend/girlfriend, but rarely talk or touch - and seem to be planning a trip together. He works at an organic commune (and lives in a jolly nice yurt) and she appears to have money and seems to work at a New Age venue with spas and saunas. The fact they are not as connected as they first seem is clear when they rack up their 'in love' act when they buy a speedboat (named Night Moves).

They drive on to meet up with Josh's friend Harmon (Sarsgaard), an ex-Marine who has fake IDs for them. …

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