Look down tunnel vision of righteousness with 'Night Moves'
The best movies by director Kelly Reichardt (“Old Joy,“ “Wendy and “Lucy,” “Meek's Cutoff”) center on people dealing with personal issues against an uncaring world, be it the unsettled West, rural Oregon or the merciless attitude of insular small towns toward the homeless. In “Night Moves,” the filmmaker turns the formula upside-down.
This is the story of three aggressive activists — Josh (Jesse Eisenberg), Dena (Dakota Fanning) and Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard) — who are planning to blow up a hydroelectric dam that is causing ecological harm to the surrounding environment. They don't intend to hurt anyone: The first half of the movie, which meticulously details how they prepare to carry out their plan, makes it clear their only intent is to send a strong message.
In Reichardt's usual manner, we only get glimpses of her protagonists' past: Josh is a farmworker, Dena is a high-school dropout, and Harmon is ex-military. What matters is not who they are, exactly, but how well they work together and how driven they are by their righteous mission. “ Night Moves ,” which takes its title from the boat they use to carry out their plan, only gives us traces of their personalities. When Josh and Dena come across a mortally wounded doe on the highway, he pulls over to inspect the animal and notices it's still warm. “She's pregnant,” he says before pushing her into the woods. There's nothing he can do for the creature, but the subtle sorrow in his voice is pointed.
Reichardt's movies are often criticized for a lack of plot: “ Wendy and Lucy ,” for instance, consisted largely of Michelle Williams searching for her missing dog, the only thing she had left in the world that was hers. But even though “Night Moves” is slow when compared to your typical thriller, there's a propulsion to the story that feels different (and is welcome) for the director.
Reichardt keeps her characters close and up front, so when differences arise in their ranks and signs of vague trouble arise, the suspense starts to mount.
Reichardt is much too low-key and modest for crowd-pleasing pyrotechnics, but one long, sustained shot near the end seems to suggest that people who are convinced they are doing the right thing are capable of great evil. Sometimes, they think the innocent must die for the greater good, which might be true in war, but not here.
Rene Rodriguez reviews movies for the Miami Herald.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Reagan shooter Hinckley closer to permanent freedom
- Pitt football notebook: ‘No. 1 safety’ Mitchell asked to step up
- Steelers won’t be backed into a corner at NFL Draft
- Van crashes into deck in Scott, motorist taken to hospital
- U.S. attorney general nominee Lynch vote likely this week, U.S. senator says
- Cole overcomes rough start as Pirates sweep Brewers
- Editorial cartoons April 20-26, 2015
- Service marks 20 years since Oklahoma City bombing
- Defenseman Cole relishing greater role since coming to Penguins at deadline
- Pirates notebook: GM sticking to plan with Kang
- Monessen man wounded in afternoon shooting