The latest from acclaimed director Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy & Lucy), Night Moves, proves to be as tense as it is intriguing. It follows the dramatic story of three environmentalists who plan and then execute the explosion of a hydroelectric dam. What follows is a result they couldn’t have seen coming, and they end up unsure of how to move forward, or if to even move forward at all.
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) plays Josh, an organic farmer, with Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds, Twilight Saga) and Peter Sarsgaard (Orphan). This slow, dramatic film aims to make the viewers think about the ways in which we treat our planet, and the lengths to which people feel they need to go to get people to pay attention to our environmental issues.
Near the start of the film, a narrator of an environmental documentary the characters are watching states, “We are a culture hooked on profit, production, and perpetual growth. But, at what cost?” This theme carries throughout the film, as the characters all grapple with how far they were willing to go to make a point, and whether or not they meant to go as far as they eventually do.
They meant to make a statement, to stand up against the corporations who force us to stand back and watch as we lose the natural beauty that once surrounded us. They see fish killed for hydroelectric dams, and clear cut forests, and they don’t like what they see. They set out to make a statement, to get peoples’ attention, but again the question is raised, how far will they go to get this attention?
The film sugar coats nothing. With slow, silent stretches and idealistic views of nature, the tone for the entire duration of the film is set. It’s unsettling, and it’s depressing. It’s not a feel good film, and not something expected to leave viewers with an uplifted view after the closing credits. Therein lies its power.
The director paints a vivid, startling portrait of how our environmental landscape is viewed both by the general public, and by these eco-terrorists, or fighters for environmental freedom, depending on how you view their actions. The film is left completely open to the viewers’ interpretation. The viewer is left searching through the prolonged, grappling with the idea of what constitutes going too far, and at what point you can no longer turn back.
Night Moves is playing August 28 and Sept 6 at the Vancity Theatre. For more information, visit viff.org.