Far from perfect and not the directors best film, Night Moves (2013) is the story of three miss matched environmental warriors who set out the blow up a hydroelectric dam by purchasing a boat, from which the film gets its name, and packing it with fertiliser. The three protagonists are the dour environmentalist Josh played by an equally dour Jesse Eisenberg an actor that does not have ‘smile’ in his repertoire and tends to be typecast as the ‘defeated human being’, Dakota Fanning is the little rich girl who has dropped out of college, and the brains behind the project is ex marine Harmon a role that really suits actor Peter Sarsgaard. In the first half of the story we witness them planning the action, moving the boat up to the dam and attaching a timer device to carry out their act of sabotage. In the second part we observe how each of them deals with the aftermath of their environmental activism and what effects it has on their fundamentalist mind sets.
I’m sure director Kelly Reichardt, who co wrote the movie with her regular writer Jon Raymond; set out to make what she deemed to be an important cinematic statement in which she poses a morale question ‘would we be capable of carrying out acts of terrorism to coincide with our own personnel beliefs’? Admittedly we can all sit at home and become cyber worriers but have we got the bottle to carry out a direct action that could endanger your own life and possible others in the collateral damage that normally follow’s such an action? Reichardt’s movie is telling us what we already know, our world is deemed to be in danger, in peril, and would we act, how do we value human life, most of us will value it highly but others may be of the opinion that the end justifies the means! Radicalism is the description that the media would give this group of three people who join forces to carry out the political act demonstrated in the film. The films narrative, as I have opined, involves the affect that this type of act has on the people involved, who admittedly start out with an enthusiastic zeal that may or may not last after the incident. The director admits that film does not deliberately set out to mimic any other political group of the present or in fact of the past and is deliberately set in a post 9/11 world where the penalties are very high for acts of terrorism, - environmental or otherwise.
|and Jesse Eisenberg never smiles!|
I did not have a great deal of time for Reichardt’s Old Joy (2006), but both Wendy and Lucy (2008), a road movie without a car and Meeks Cutoff (2010), a western without a cowboy, are fine examples of Independent American film making. But this latest movie, although thought provoking, did not grip me, which I believe is partly down to the non-charismatic portrayal of the characters. A better movie that cover’s similar territory, and one I would urge you to see, is Zal Batmanglij’s The East (2012).