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Night Moves (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 112 minutes.

OK for children.

Three passionate but goofy environmentalists, Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard, try to blow up a dam but run into consequences none of them anticipated.

While director Kelly Reichardt (who co-wrote the script with long-time collaborator Jon Raymond) claims that the movie is not about politics but about people, what it shows, really, is that there is no difference. Whether intentionally or not, Reichardt shows the shallowness of some of the people who profess to care passionately about how man affects nature. There is one great line emphasizing the superficiality of these people where Fanning is quoting statistics about nature and Sarsgaard comments that she is really knowledgeable and she says, “Yeah, I had a class about it.”

While all three give good performances, Fanning displays the widest range. Eisenberg’s role is basically just being quiet, thinking a lot and not saying much. There are a lot of shots of people thinking, mostly Eisenberg. While a little bit of that goes a long way, his thoughtful process adds to the mounting tension as problems mount and the only way out seems beyond the pale. The problem for Eisenberg is that this is the way he was in The Social Network, too. He is in danger of getting a reputation as a one trick pony.

Sarsgaard plays a loose cannon and gives his usual fine performance.

There appeared to be one real goof. When the three are driving away from what they’ve done at the dam, there’s a three shot of them in the car facing the camera. While Sarsgaard starts the engine and the wheels are heard rolling, the background outside of the back window doesn’t move a bit. For a moment I thought they were going to be stuck, unable to flee, but it was just a bad job in post production, as they eventually arrived at their destination, with the view out the back window never altering one iota.

I generally don’t like these Terrence Malick-like films in which people think most of the time, but this one is much better than the norm.

May 15, 2014