Night Moves follows three radical eco-activists (Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard) as they plot to blow up a dam. Simply meant to perform their act of eco-terror and disappear in their own separate directions, getting away from one another and the crime that they committed might not be as easy as hoped.
Following director Kelly Reichardt’s naturalistic and methodical style, Night Moves is understandably bound to get some comparisons to The East from earlier this year, but that was essentially a chase film where this film exists in the quieter moments of self-doubt that these characters carry. Filled with fantastic photography and some freaky set pieces that evoke the likes of Brian de Palma and Alfred Hitchcock, Reichardt builds some effective tension that comes on slowly until it’s just all around us. While her pace following these people isn’t ideal, she shows legitimate talent for making a straight thriller and the material helps the ensemble achieve this goal.
Jesse Eisenberg plays right into the role as a naturally suspicious eco-terrorist with Sarsgaard as the veteran activist and Fanning playing the other side of the coin as the idyllic activist. While Sarsgaard and Fanning are fine, it is really Eisenberg in the third act that carries this film to that special point.
Night Moves isn’t Reichardt’s best, but it is pretty damn close and it makes for a very interesting film.
Rating: **** (out of 5 stars)
Sunday, September 15 at 9 p.m. at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
TIFF 2013 runs from September 5 – 15. For more information, visit tiff.net.
Top image: A scene from Night Moves. Courtesy TIFF.