By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood September 20, 2013 at 12:22PM
Cinedigm has snapped up all North American rights to Kelly Reichardt's noir thriller "Night Moves," which premiered at Venice earlier this month, and played TIFF. It stars Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard at their moody best as radical environmentalists plotting the explosion of a hydroelectric dam. Nothing is as simple as it seems and the aftermath of their act has unexpected consequences; the movie bears comparison to such James Cain film classics as "The Postman Always Ring Twice" or "Double Indemnity."
Cinedigm is eyeing a spring 2014 release.
This is brainy writer-director Reichardt's fifth and most accessible feature. Other titles on her estimable filmography include 2010's brilliant Western "Meek's Cutoff," 2008's lonesome ode "Wendy and Lucy," both starring Michelle Williams, and 2006's male retreat two-hander "Old Joy."
Our TOH! review out of Venice is here.
Here's a few critics' reactions to the film:
Hardcore admirers of the exquisite minimalism practiced by Kelly Reichardt in films like Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy may approach her fifth feature, Night Moves, with caution. But while this eco-terrorism thriller is considerably more dialogue- and plot-driven than its predecessors, it’s very much of a piece with the distinctive director’s work. After a terrific first hour that crescendos in an extended sequence of quiet yet potent white-knuckle suspense, the film loses some traction in the more challengingly paced second half. But it remains an engrossing reflection on radical violence and its fallout.
One of the most sharp-eyed and politically attuned filmmakers of her generation, Kelly Reichardt blends her lucid observational approach with a topical-thriller format to engrossing effect in “Night Moves.” Perfectly consistent with the director’s earlier films in its political dimensions and fascination with nature as both backdrop and subject, this tale of three environmental activists planning a dangerous act of eco-terrorism has a quietly gripping first hour that builds to a suspenseful peak, then yields faintly diminishing returns thereafter as the doubts and implications set in. But if Reichardt doesn’t quite stick the landing, she’s nonetheless made her most accessible, plot-driven picture to date.
“Night Moves” presents a savvy look at the vanity of grassroots extremism, finding its anti-heroes trapped by the institutional forces they despite at every turn. The only hint of rhetoric arrives early on, when a young woman at a group meeting makes a vague assertion that frustrates the main characters. “I’m not focused on big plans,” she says. “I’m focused on a lot of small plans.” By contrast, the main characters in “Night Moves” aspire to succeed at a big plan without considering its ramifications until it’s too late. By placing that situation ahead of the polemics driving it, Reichardt portrays activism in self-defeating terms, trapping her characters in a personal hell of their own creation. Like the expressionistic power of the empty landscape in “Meek’s Cutoff,” its universe simultaneously feels real and nightmarishly abstract.