Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Night Moves

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Night Moves

Article excerpt

Night Moves

15, Nationwide

Night Moves is a film by Kelly Reichardt, who also made the heart-wrenching Wendy and Lucy (2008), which may be one of my favourite films of all time. (If you don't know it, go look it up; I'm old now, so no longer have the energy to educate you in these matters.) Her films, she has said, are 'just glimpses of people passing through' but whereas you or I would make a film about people just passing through which would be just that -- everyday people would pass through, uninterestingly -- her understanding of character and narrative and character as narrative is so profound, these ordinary people become wholly absorbing. She also, I should mention, made the wonderful Meek's Cutoff , but you're going to have to look that up too.

Angry young man: Jesse Eisenberg as Josh in 'Night Moves'

This has been described as a 'thriller', although, in fact, it half is, half isn't, as it changes mood somewhere in the middle, and becomes more about what guilt does to a person, and how it might push you over the edge, but there is nothing amiss with that. Buy one genre, get one free, is the way I look at it. Our main characters are eco-activists who plan to blow up a hydroelectric dam in Oregon. They are Josh (Jesse Eisenberg), Dena (Dakota Fanning) and Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard). Josh works among cabbages and sweet potatoes at a farming co-op. Dena is a rich kid, who, disgusted by consumer capitalist society, has dropped out. Harmon is an ex-con and former Marine who knows how to blow stuff up, and is the kind of sleazy alpha male who, at one time, could well have been played by Jack Nicholson. We never find out how they know each other. Reichardt allows occasional facts to percolate to the surface, organically, as they would, but there are no back stories as such, and no one tells anyone else what they would already know (my own particular bugbear) and there is no exposition. You remember that Dan Brown film with Tom Hanks and Hanks is running through the streets of Rome telling you everything that's happened over the past 500 years, and who's who, and where we are at exactly? Think the opposite of that. …

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