Kelly Reichardt’s films have always owed a debt to the work of Terrence Malick. Ever since her debut Rivers of Grass, the American director has segued elements that are quintessentially Malick into her films. There’s a studied elegance in Reichardt’s film-making, and in her latest movie Night Moves she pushes herself to another level in what is her most ambitious work to date.
Three environmentalist activists, Josh (Jesse Eisenberg), Dena (Dakota Fanning) and Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard), come up with a scheme to blow up a dam. Josh and Harmon go way back, Dena’s friends with Josh and is bankrolling the operation. The trio form an uneasy alliance but their relationships become strained after events don’t go quite to plan.
Night Moves is a film of two halves. In the first, Reichardt gradually builds up the tension. Whilst in the second half focuses on the recriminations and fall-out which follows. Thoughtful and contemplative, it indirectly poses many questions without passing judgement or attempting to provide answers. There are great performances from all the three leads with Eisenberg putting in the performance of his career as the troubled Josh.
Night moves is up there with Wendy and Lucy as Reichardt’s best film and it’s also her most expansive to date. Night Moves is out in cinemas now.