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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