Mediocre picture and sound don't help this slow-moving drama
Night Moves Film Review
Fans of writer/director Kelly Reichardt will be right at home with her latest endeavour, yet another Oregon-set environmentally-minded indie flick, where absolutely nothing happens.The deliberately-paced works of Reichardt are like Atom Egoyan films, only without the emotion, or Terrence Malick films, only without the beauty. However there’s no doubt that she has a devout following, who lap up her slow-burning, naturally-evolving dramas like they are milestones leading towards the Second Coming. There is something unquestionably intriguing about her features – which is ironic when you consider that they seem resolutely intent on providing a whole new definition to the word anti-climactic. For films as uneventful as these, you might wonder just what draws you in, just what keeps you intrigued beyond all logic and rationalisation. Because, without a doubt, there is something there, however intangible. Reichardt’s works require patience, and not just on the part of the audience.Her actors must be capable of conveying not only their emotions but the very narrative itself with precious few words; carrying the weight of the entire movie on their shoulders. For her trio of environmental extremists here, the task is sometimes insurmountable, with very little gleaned from the perpetually scowling Eisenberg in particular, and Fanning and Sarsgaard only just faring slightly better. Reichardt’s true character inspection starts in earnest over halfway through the movie, which is a lot to ask of viewers, and which perhaps does not work as well here as in some of her other works. Still, there is something intriguing, and almost unattainable beneath the surface, and those to whom this style appeals will be more than prepared to invest the time in figuring out exactly what that is.
Blu-ray Picture QualityPresented with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition rendition in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1, Night Moves comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray courtesy of Soda Pictures.
They do solid work with the material, despite the somewhat unforgiving setting and utterly unforgiving directorial style of Reichardt, whose restrictive light management does have an unquestionable effect on some of the darker moments. Oregon does not look in the least bit attractive in this film, which strips down the colours to the bare minimum, providing frequently dour, drained tones with only scant sign of anything vibrant, vivid or primary colours.
Never destined to be demo material, this video presentation still handles the unforgiving material well.
Of course it's all in-line with the stylistic intentions, but even the background scenery appears to get swallowed up in the desire to show life without any signs of life. Details only relatively rarely suffers as a result of these stylistic choices, with the darkness smothering a little more of the shadow detail than you might expect, and with brighter sequences having their integrity intact. There are certainly no defects to speak of, and overall it's a very good video presentation which is faithful towards the material on offer.
Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track shouldn't really get any complaints either, but, on the other hand, also struggles to distinguish itself enough to get much praise. Certainly it does a solid job at promoting the dialogue throughout the piece, which comes across clearly and coherently, dominating the front and centre channels as is necessary. However, with almost no score, and a distinctly uneventful narrative, there's very little material left to keep your sound system even active.
There's only so much you can do with such a minimalistic soundtrack.
Sure, the atmospheric effects are well-represented, and the scenery does occasionally get the chance to shine, whether through birds chirping or rustling leaves or sounds of oars swept through the water, but it's largely sparse and minimalist, and is accurate but reserved throughout. Without more to offer, it's hard to fault the track for what it simply can't deliver, but this is far from demo material.
Blu-ray ExtrasOn the one hand the interviews with writer/director Kelly Reichardt and actor Jesse Eisenberg and the short film are a marked improvement upon the US counterpart's mere trailers, which are also included here. However you have to wonder why none of Reichardt's own short films could have been included; instead we get a short film by one of her frequent collaborators, Larry Fessenden. Still, as stated, it's better than other releases have offered.
Night Moves Blu-ray VerdictNight Moves is the latest deliberately-paced effort from director Kelly Reichardt, which may appeal to her fans, but even they might struggle this time around. Reichardt is more than prepared to test your patience as she tells a tale in just about the most minimalistic style that she can accomplish. There's something beneath the surface, which does draw you in, but getting to the bottom of it may be a harder task than it's worth.
Night Moves is so languid that it may even put off the director's own dedicated following.
This Region B-locked UK Blu-ray boasts respectful video and audio, which does its best with the material on offer, as well as a smattering of extras which trumps the Stateside counterpart. It's the best edition to own, for fans of the film, but those who have yet to encounter a Reichardt movie should maybe consider starting with another one of her marginally more accessible, inaccessible works, like Meek's Cutoff, before going on this trip to nowhere.
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