Time Out says
Writer-director Kelly Reichardt’s work walks a treacherous tightrope: Her style is so remote, low-key and observational that the films rely on performance to provide emotional weight. So far this technique has paid off, particularly with the devastating Wendy and Lucy (2008), in which Michelle Williams delivers a harrowing portrait of a woman on the edge of society and sanity. But what happens when there’s no sympathetic central character to root for?
Reichardt’s new film provides the answer, and frankly, it’s a disappointing one. Jesse Eisenberg plays Josh, a dour, self-absorbed ecowarrior who, with his compatriots Dena (Dakota Fanning) and Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard), is intent on blowing up a local dam. But when the crime has unexpected consequences, all three are forced to question their principles.
As a procedural study, Night Moves is undeniably effective: The buildup is slow, painstaking and intense, the fallout inevitable but still shocking. And as an exploration of how these self-proclaimed moral arbiters live with the ramifications of their actions, it is, like all of Reichardt’s work, scalpel-sharp in its observations. But the soul is somehow missing: Josh is simply too brittle a central character to empathize with, and as the noose tightens, it becomes increasingly hard to care what he thinks, says or does.
Follow Tom Huddleston on Twitter: @TomHuddleston_
Cast and crew