Saturday, August 3, 2019

Night Moves (2013) directed by Kelly Reichardt

This is my third Kelly Reichardt, and probably my favorite. The two films I’d watched previously, Meek’s Cutoff and Old Joy were both slowly paced and beautifully shot. The opposite of the constant motion of the MCU and the like. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fast paced stuff as well, but her films provide a necessary counterpoint. I love the silence they inhabit and provoke.

That being said my favorite genres are crime movies and dark comedies (followed by potential trainwrecks that really shouldn’t work but somehow do, a la Southland Tales, The Fifth Element, Tank Girl, etc). So when I saw that Reichardt had done a crime thriller of sorts, I was definitely intrigued. She pulled it off. Her quiet approach is perfect for a slow burn thriller.

Old Joy could be summed up as two guys go to the woods to figure out why their friendship faded and Meek’s Cutoff as a pioneer wagon train gets lost and yet both are much more than those summaries imply. Night Moves is about three environmentalists who plan a crime and the aftermath. This has a masterful slow build of tension, and the aftermath is as compelling and tense as the planning.

Reichardt does an amazing job here of coming from a certain point of view, environmentalism, but not making a didactic work. Her characters all have strong ideologies and what environmental concerns that are on display are their concerns. They fit in the narrative because they provide the motivation for the action. Reichardt knows that messages are more effective if they are not presented as a sort of gospel tract. I doubt that she would convince any climate skeptics, but she’s not making a polemic; she’s making a slowly simmering thriller.

This is a just about perfect movie. The pacing, the cinematography, the performances. Everything works.


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