In her follow-up to Meek’s Cutoff, Kelly Reichardt’s trademark languid, stripped-back style is maintained for her most narrative-driven film to date. The seductively shot Night Moves sees three activists (Eisenberg, Fanning and Sarsgaard) collaborate to destroy a hydro-electric dam in order to stir public consciousness, only to confront growing senses of paranoia, futility and remorse when their plan proves misconceived for multiple reasons.
Reichardt, who co-wrote the film, refreshingly opts out of defined moral judgements concerning both the central trio and supporting figures peppered throughout the story. The first hour, including both the grand eco-terrorist gesture and the build up to it, is the strongest section in terms of its character work and almost suffocating suspense. The aftermath, however, sees a dilution of the earlier psychological depth despite the new ethical dilemmas that arise. Eisenberg, the focus of the second half, in particular struggles when he needs to rely on his face, rather than words, to convey conflict. Night Moves subsequently loses much of the gripping momentum that previously sustained it.