The Films of 2014: Night Moves

The first hour of Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves, in which three environmental activists plot to blow up a hydroelectric dam under cover of darkness, is some of the best filmmaking I’ve seen this year: it’s punctuated by moments of nearly unbearable tension, and yet it also unfolds with an eerie, languid calm.  Played by Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard, the film’s conspirators are cagey and quiet.  They exchange only a handful of words and know one other only by aliases.  As they head toward their goal, the film’s atmosphere thickens; its serene landscapes become tinged with menace.  As with its characters, the film’s intensity roils just beneath a placid surface.