Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff) crafts a pulsating and morally ambiguous thriller about figures moving in shadows. Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning star as eco-terrorists, whose relationship and motivation is left perfectly ambiguous. They connect with Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard) and the trio establish a web of mutual understanding, brought together by a shared loneliness. Reichardt has such a strong sense of composition that Night Moves is engaging in its silence, with night time which
really feels dark. Occasionally its isolation goes too far, for example, while Jesse Eisenberg plays Josh with a powerful emotional disengagement, some signal of emotional responsiveness in the film’s second act may have been of benefit to help the twists and betrayals resonate. It is a gorgeously composed piece, with images captured which only grow more striking with contemplation. Whether the film’s protagonists are heroes or villains is of no interest to Reichardt, nor does the film contain an environmental message. We meet Josh watching an eco-film and through his actions and reaction we can infer his measured, considered desire to inflict change in a world where agriculture has been usurped by technology. To me, Night Moves is a study in loneliness and detachment from the modern world but to others the film may be about something different, equally interesting. It’s a slow, tense piece of introspective cinema, ending on a note of ambiguity, lacking fulfilment. Reichardt is an expert at leaving her audience craving more, asking them to find satisfaction with thoughts and images long after the film finishes.
Night Moves is out on 29th August in the UK. Running time 112 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).
Review by David Rank