Reichardt’s darkest movie, thematically and visually. Extremist environmentalist Jesse Eisenberg blows up a dam along with Dakota Fanning (providing the funds) and Peter Sarsgaard (handy with explosives), killing a camper with the ensuing flood. Days later, Dakota is freaking out from guilt, so Jesse murders her, then flees into the anonymous suburbs.
They’re young, sensitive, brooding, idealistic — not tortured, exactly, but stung by the feeling that they have to do something and totally destroyed by the something they end up doing.
The middle-aged suburban guy selling his fishing vessel couldn’t be more innocuous in his personal manner, but we see his neighborhood through Josh’s angry eyes: the backyard waterfall is a clear misallocation of resources, the golf on TV the final insult … The way Contagion forced viewers to see every surface as a potential viral breeding ground rather than an neutral object, Night Moves makes it easier to view the everyday world’s physical components through perpetually, justifiably aggrieved environmentalist eyes.
Night Moves has a hint of a repeatedly disenchanted activist’s understandable bubbling-under stridency while adding to Reichardt’s gallery of would-be liberal American citizens navigating a hostile landscape already shaped and perhaps permanently ruined by those who came before.
What should anybody be doing right now? No answer was discovered in the making of the film for that question.