Night Moves Review

Night Moves

Consequences are a bitch.

As is coming to terms with them, even at the best of times.

When you and a couple of your radical environmentalist buddies have just blown up a hydroelectric dam, it’s rather trickier than usual.

Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves plays with this issue, exploring the psyche of protagonist Josh (Jesse Eisenberg) in the lead up to and aftermath of the obliteration of said dam.

The result is a jarring and, at times, alienating narrative which is rather like Marmite: you’ll either love it or hate it.

From the start, minimal and often mumbled dialogue confuses and disorients the viewer, reflecting the experience of the characters.

This isn’t one of those films that serves everything to you on a platter upfront. The plot is revealed gradually and characters are explored indirectly.

Much is conveyed through powerful imagery and a score – or lack thereof – which reflect moods and mindsets, rather than through characters chatting banally to each other about how they feel, what they’re thinking and what they’re planning to do.

You can probably tell by this point that I’m a Marmite fan.

Sweeping shots of jagged hills, thick forests and vast bodies of water accompanied by a delicate, eerie score create a sense of the beauty and fragility of nature, whilst at the same time conveying its size and potential for brutality.

Anyone who’s ever stood alone in the middle of a forest with nothing but trees, crisp air and chilling silence all around will know what I’m talking about.

Oh, and there’s a pretty heavy scene with a dead deer by the side of a road.

Like I said, love it or hate it.

In terms of plot, there’s really not all that much to it: three radical environmentalists (Eisenberg plus co-stars Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard) blow up a dam and then try to figure out how to deal with it.

Make up and wardrobe are understated. Acting is understated.

This film really is more about putting the viewer into Josh’s mindset, from nervous determination at the beginning, to darkness and paranoia towards the end.

And in that regard, it succeeds admirably.

Don’t go to watch this film for entertainment’s sake, nor purely because you are a fan of Jesse Eisenberg or Dakota Fanning.

Watch this film if you are looking for something dark, understated and a little challenging.

Those who appreciate the experimental or unusual use of cinematic technique in lieu of a big plot and self-explanatory dialogue will enjoy this freaky jar of Marmite.

Others, in all likelihood, will not.

Stephanie Josine

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August 2014
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