MOVIE REVIEW | Night Moves (2013)

Night Moves

“Situation is getting geometically worse. It’ll all go fast in the end. Once the marine bio-diversity goes, everything goes with it.”

Jesse Eisenberg is one of those actors who between paying the bills with shit bombs like Now You See Me, tries to remind us all that he’s a serious and important actor. He makes a lot of smaller stuff, and that’s great. If his name being attached gets a movie made and seen that would have otherwise gone ignored, that’s a good thing. Kelly Reichardt is one of those directors who makes small, personal movies that get good reviews from critics and pretty much ignored by the general movie going public. So when Eisenberg and Reichardt got together, I felt like the result would be one extreme or the other. Either brilliant or naval gazing indie dreck. Turns out, Night Moves is smack bang in the middle.

Jesse Eisenberg is Josh, a painfully earnest asshole who works on an organic farming co-op where he mopes his way through the day, frowning at things and being unlikeable. He leaves the farm to go on a mysterious mission with Dena (Dakota Fanning), a spoiled little rich girl trying to prove she’s more than that. They buy a speed boat for $10,000 cash and go to see Josh’s friend Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard). A loaner and ex-marine, he has a certain set of skills.

It turns out that Josh, Dena and Harmon plan on filling their newly acquired boat with homemade explosives, and blowing up a dam in an act of eco protest. The three are mismatched and the plan seems like it could fall apart at any second, and it could blamed on each or all of them. This isn’t a group of three covert experts, executing the perfect plan. It’s a group of three people way out of their depth who just keep going deeper.

Based on Night Moves and the only other movie of her’s I’ve seen, Meek’s Cutoff, Kelly Reichardt is an extremely deliberate film maker. ‘Deliberate’ can be a nice way of saying boring, or it can be a great compliment in regards to pacing. With Meek’s Cutoff, it’s deliberate in all the right ways. You feel every second of frustration and desperation with the characters. In Night Moves, it’s just plane boring.

The expression on Eisenberg’s face for the entire movie looks like Dakota Fanning farted on set and the wind changed. His constant look of faux angst and superiority gets old in the first five minutes, then you get to look at it for another hour and a half. And if you like characters staring blankly into the distance as they drive in cars, you’re in luck. Night Moves offers minutes up on minutes upon minutes of just that.

OK, so those last couple of paragraphs might sound like I hated this movie. And that’s not true. For the most part Night Moves kept my attention and was a perfectly fine, well acted, well told story. Which is what makes those downsides stick out all the more. It could have been a really great movie if it just stopped being so impressed with itself every now and again and got on with it.

Night Moves
Directed By – Kelly Reichardt
Written By – Kelly Reichardt, Jonathan Raymond

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