Damn it's Slow
Environmental activists Josh (Jesse Eisenberg) and Dena (Dakota Fanning) are frustrated by the damming of the river and plan to take action in a way that the whole World will notice and think about their own actions. But they can't do it alone and call on the services of Josh's pal Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard) to pull off the plan, which is to blow up a dam. But whilst they pull off their plan there are unexpected consequences which lead to feelings of guilt, paranoia and further consequences.
"Night Moves" is not my first Kelly Reichardt movie and to be honest I watched half expecting to really struggle as some of her movies are shall we say not friendly to fans of commercial cinema rather than indie. In fact I would go as far to say that out of the five Kelly Reichardt movies I have watched "Night Moves" is probably the most accessible with a simple storyline and a cast which features familiar faces. Although at the same time it is still definitely left of midfield and it has a style and abruptness which might leave some audiences bored senseless.
Now in many ways "Night Moves", which appears to be named after a boat in the movie, might have been better named as "Consequences" as that is the focus of the movie as we watch Josh struggle with the consequences of his actions. But before we get to that we get an hour which is a stretch of the patience as we watch Josh, Dena and Harmon plan their act of environmental terrorism. And sadly other than watching Dena trying to buy fertilizer and finding opposition it is not entertaining.
But when we see how Josh's life is post act of terror is where "Night Moves" comes good. There are lots of things going on in this side of the movie from feelings of guilt over what happened, a sense of paranoia as he fears the net is closing in on him and the realisation that his big act to make the World sit up ends up not only having unfortunate consequences but did not amount to much at all when it comes to the environmental cause.
Of course there is the fact that "Night Moves" features 3 recognizable actors in Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard and I am sure there will be those who watch this because of them. The thing is that Eisenberg does what he does in so many movies which is to deliver those awkward moments of silence where he seems to be processing what is happening whilst Sargaard gives us much more easy going but pretty routine. In truth the only one who seems to try to deliver a unique character is Dakota Fanning but finds herself struggling with a character who like the rest is minimally written.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Night Moves" is the most accessible Kelly Reichardt movie I have watched it is still one which ends up hard work due to it being laborious in places. And it is a shame because after a slow first half the second half is actually quite interesting.