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Movie of the Day: Night Moves (2014)

Where to Watch – Free Options Available

What Is It?

A small group of neophyte eco-terrorists (Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Sarsgaard, Dakota Fanning) plot the bombing of a hydroelectric dam. In the aftermath, the tensions arising from their different social backgrounds and political motives lead to further violence.

What’s Cool About It?

Women directors are pretty cool, especially working outside the Hollywood system where they aren’t wedged into making rom coms or, in this day and age, female super hero movies. In fact, Kelly Reichardt is a great director regardless of her gender, arguably among the most interesting American filmmakers working today. Night Moves may be the least well known of her films aside from her Florida-set student feature River of Grass, or at the very least this movie didn’t garner the same attention as her other dramas about life in the American Northwest. There are probably a few reasons for this: the more political nature of the story, the absence of Reichardt regular Michelle Williams, the presence of Dakota Fanning who’s actually very good in her role as a rich kid turned radical, the fact that it confusingly shares a title with a 1970’s Gene Hackman neo-noir. Despite all of that, Night Moves offers a thoughtful, if dark, examination of left-leaning extremism, making it a nice counter-balance to the bloody tension of Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room or a less corporate companion piece to Zal Batmanglij’s The East.

Wait, Is This Thing Pro- or Anti-Terrorism?

Without ruining the ending, most viewers should not be inspired to chuck their worldly possessions to live off the grid and blow up property in the name of the environment. However, Night Moves is a great example of a how a story can be sympathetic to a certain set of politics while also critiquing it in its most radicalized form. Reichardt is adept at exploring the complex human psychologies of her characters, and her films tend to explore the idea of how people can live in balance or conflict with nature. This film is perhaps her most explicit dissection of that idea.

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