Jesse Eisenberg in the Unconventional Night Moves.

Jesse Eisenberg in Night Moves.

Jesse Eisenberg in Night Moves.

Kelly Reichardt is one of the few interesting film makers working in America today, and Night Moves is her sixth film.

She first arrived albeit very quietly with her third film Old Joy in ’06, which “stared” Will Oldham, as much as anything could be said to star him. If you are familiar with the pensive, quietly introspective yet keenly perceptive music that Oldham has been making for well on two decades now, you’ll have a good idea of the sort of terrain that Reichardt’s films map out.

After Wendy And Lucy in ’08 starring Michele Williams, she teamed up with again Williams in 2010 for the decidedly off kilter western Meek’s Cutoff. Austere and determinedly unconventional, this is the kind of non-western that makes McCabe and Mrs Miller look The Magnificent Seven.

Robert Altman's famous anti-western.

Robert Altman’s famous anti-western.

Her latest film, Night Moves is similarly contrary in its rejection of conventional narrative. Gone too are the beautifully constructed vistas of Meek’s Cutoff. We are in the decidedly humdrum world of ordinary people trying quietly to stand up for what they believe in.

What makes the film compelling, as compelling as a film that eschews conventional narrative can ever be, is that what they choose to do in defence of their beliefs is highly questionable. And, even more interestingly, it’s far from clear quite how cleanly held those convictions are.

Jesse Eisenberg is the eco warrior who teams up with Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard to do something that will draw attention to what it is that we are all doing to the planet. She has the funds and he has the expertise.

But the two men are clearly just using her for their own different ends. Whilst she’s so visibly damaged she’s all too easily led. Inevitably their plans begin to unravel, and the second half of the film focuses on the always compelling figure of Eisenberg, as he sinks into a Dostoyevskian fog. The sound of every approaching car is amplified, and everyone seems to be looking at him in a funny way.

Reichardt's contribution to the genre.

Reichardt’s contribution to the genre.

Given what preceded it, the film takes a slightly surprising turn in its third act, which isn’t a disaster, but neither is it wholly convincing. But that only slightly detracts from the film as a whole.

Night Moves is a pleasingly unusual film, and a welcome antidote to all that CGI saturated noise that pollutes so many of our cinemas. And Reichardt is a name to watch out for. You can see the trailer to Night Moves here.

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Comments

  1. Arra shite

  2. That’s certainly an interesting perspective, Paul. I shall of course pass your comments on to the film makers so that they can digest them fully…. Thanks for the note! A.

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