Kelly Reichardt’s most accessible film to date is a haunting look at the aftermath of an activist plot gone wrong.
Kelly Reichardt (USA, Special Presentation)
Sunday, September 8, 9 p.m.
Ryerson Theatre (43 Gerrard Street East)
Monday, September 9, 11:45 a.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 (350 King Street West)
Sunday, September 15, 9 p.m.
The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)
Kelly Reichardt makes slow-burning movies, the kind you have to lean into with patience to appreciate. Night Moves is her most mainstream effort, a present-day portrait of three young radical environmentalists who plot to blow up a dam. The film has a more immediate hook than her last one, Meek’s Cutoff, which was a minimalist portrait of nineteenth-century homesteaders roving aimlessly across the Oregon Trail. Yet it’s clearly the work of the same filmmaker—an artist more interested in the smouldering aftermath of a bomb blast than in the gory details of the explosion.
Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard star as a loosely affiliated group of Oregon activists. We meet them initially during the planning phase of their attack, when they’re engaged in the mundane work of buying materials and securing a boat to transport them. There’s an ominous weight to these moments, as well as to Reichardt’s framing of the actual bombing, which we watch at a remove, from the inside of the trio’s truck. It’s the long, tense fallout from the explosion, though, that makes this one of the more haunting films of the year.