(Kelly Reichardt, 2014)
Reichardt's brand of hushed, precise art cinema proves a surprisingly good fit for a paranoid thriller here. Following three novice Environmental terrorists as they plan and execute the destruction of a dam in Oregon, Night Moves concentrates on the cross-currents and dynamics between these people, most effectively as the tension mounts in the hours before the bombing and as their paranoia grows in the aftermath.
Shot mostly in muted, autumnal hues, Reichardt is as sensitive as ever to the landscapes in which she sets her story. But her camera is also attuned to the faces and body language of this trio.
Their plan has come from Josh (Jesse Eisenberg), a tightly wound, humourless young man who lives in a Yurt on a farming co-operative. His awkward gracelesness is nicely, subtly contrasted with the chattering charm of Dee (Dakota Fanning), a little rich girl who funds some of Josh's smaller acts of rebellion but finds herself unprepared for the real-life repercussions of their bombing. They are joined by an old friend of Josh's, Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard), an ex-Marine, ex-Con who handles the explosives and deals with their situation better than his co-conspirators.
The film steadily follows their preparations as they buy a boat and fertiliser, make explosives and get into position. We get glimpses of their differing philosophies and reasons for doing this; Josh's anger about salmon dying so people can charge their iPods, Harmon on the bloat of Portland into the countryside, and Dee on how industrial fishing is destroying ocean bio-diversity. That all makes their actions seem righteous and motivated, but there is the unmistakable sense that they do not know quite what they are doing. In the aftermath, Reichardt allows Josh's boss to casually destroy the meaning of their act when he calls it "theatre" and we can see in Josh's eyes that - after a tragic and unexpected consequence has struck him - he doesn't even disagree.
The atmosphere is thick with angst and tension, and that only increases once the act has taken place and Josh is spiralling, worried about his accomplices and the future. The ending is ambiguous and haunting in a way that provides a perfect fit with the quiet tone of the film.