Kelly Reichardt’s latest unfolds at her usual measured pace, following the planning, execution, and fallout after a destructive act of environmental protest. Weaving in elements of heist and noir films, Reichardt’s central premise ensures that every scene is charged with tension, so something as seemingly mundane as buying fertilizer becomes pulse pounding as you wait to see if the plan comes unstuck.
The central trio turn in low key performances that stay grounded even as tensions increase between them. Eisenberg in particular is even more guarded than usual, showing his rising inner turmoil through tortured looks rather than histrionics. The subdued acting combines with deliberate editing to slowly ratchet up viewers’ nerves.
There’s a moral debate at the heart of the film – as the characters outline the need for immediate action to highlight environmental problems, viewers are invited to question whether an extreme crisis warrants extreme actions. It’s a resonant theme, and Reichardt observes from a distance, letting actions speak for themselves.
The political gradually becomes personal, and as we see all the ways the plan could fail, and the way it ripples outward with unexpected consequences, it proves too much for its instigators.
Evoking slow-burning ’70s cinema in the best possible way this is a character study in slow motion, charting the dissolution of a group who find the best intentions can lead to very bad consequences.
‘Night Moves’ Movie Times