The first spine-chilling moment comes from realizing Night Moves' tale of domestic terrorism feels so true. The latest film from director/co-writer Kelly Reichardt is not a procedural thriller, though Reichardt expertly realizes the criminal process. Instead, she wraps a crime in a character-driven enigma that would make Hitchcock proud (if he ever were capable of such nonsense). Reichardt makes us feel deeply for three individuals who are about to do something quite terrible.
And that's where a second, much more frigid chill grips our vertebrae: We quickly recognize that the film's horrific act is about to happen in a familiar place and will have consequences that will hit close to home--home being the Pacific Northwest, the setting for so many of Reichardt's films (Meek's Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy, Old Joy).
More than rivers bend in Night Moves when three radical environmentalists (Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard) purchase a boat, named Night Moves, along with hundreds of pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and head out toward Oregon's hydroelectric Galesville Dam. The eco-terrorists' logic regarding environmental supremacy is so perfectly twisted, the trio is terrifying. Audiences in other parts of the nation may be reminded of the Weather Underground Organization of the 1960s or the Symbionese Liberation Army of the 1970s, but those of us in the Northwest are all-too familiar with groups such as the Earth Liberation Army, linked to a string of arsons in the 1990s, or the Animal Liberation Front, which admitted to firebombing a Caldwell fur retailer in 2011.
We recommended Night Moves as one of Boise Weekly's 10 best movies of the summer (BW, Screen, "The Three 'B's of Summer," May 21, 2014) and our feelings haven't changed. It's a great film with measurable relevance.