US indie director Kelly Reichardt explores the impact of an act of eco-terrorism
Night Moves is easily Kelly Reichardt's most conventional film to date in terms of its narrative structure and skilful accretion of suspense. Yet this apparent simple approach only serves to accentuate the film's multifaceted and subtle exploration of an act of eco-terrorism and its repercussions.
As her previous work attests, Reichardt is a master at exploring the 'in between', whether it's in relation to a place, a person or a situation. Her characters are often passengers travelling away from the familiar and seeking out the unknown. There is also something inherently American about the way in which she explores identity through the cinematic landscape. For example, the liminal desert of the Oregon Trail in Meek's Cutoff or the transitional spaces in Wendy and Lucy. In Night Moves the setting is the obscure and dark forest of the Pacific Northwest.
Reichardt's films stand out for their refusal to offer a moral framework through which the viewer can read these stories of flight. In her latest film the young protagonists want to lead their lives on the periphery of society and indict its values through an act of extreme violence. The film asks what the consequences of such a choice might be: what is it possible to live with? As such, the film's central themes are the divestment of identity and the fracturing of sanity.
Both Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard give excellent performances, but Jesse Eisenberg's introverted and nervy portrayal of Josh (the gang's main ringleader) is the most impressive. Once again, this is highly intelligent and sensitive filmmaking from Reichardt.
Reviewed at London Film Festival 2013. Due for release in summer 2014.