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dir Kelly Reichardt
scr Kelly Reichardt, Jon Raymond
prd Saemi Kim, Neil Kopp, Chris Maybach, Anish Savjani, Rodrigo Teixeira
with Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard, Alia Shawkat, Kai Lennox, Katherine Waterston, Barry Del Sherman, James Le Gros, Matt Malloy, Logan Miller, Joel Polinsky, Autumn Nidalmia
release UK Oct.13 lff
Up to something: Fanning and Eisenberg
VENICE FILM FEST
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Reichardt takes on eco-terrorism with her usual askance, original approach to filmmaking, avoiding big thrills for introspective drama and provocative moral dilemmas. Every layer of this film is subtle, which is remarkable when such a hot-potato topic is involved. But it's also a bit sleepy.
Organic farmer Josh (Eisenberg) and zen-retreat manager Dena (Fanning) are plotting something to make people sit up and notice about how humanity is abusing the planet: working with Harmon (Sarsgaard) they're going to bomb a dam in rural Oregon. The idea is to remind America that they don't need to run their iPods 24 hours a day. But after painstakingly setting up their small act of terrorism, they neglect to consider one factor. And the fallout haunts them deeply.
The film is impeccably shot, carefully showing us the details of this trio's simple plan while quietly filling in the details of the big issues they are so concerned about. In this part of America, people are acutely aware of environmental causes. Yet it's intriguing that we can see something these activists can't: that an strike this isolated probably won't make any difference in the general consciousness.
Even so, the film continually reminds us that it's quite possible to live much more simply, with sustainable houses and farms and a stronger connection with our spiritual selves, all of which helps us understand and respect the world we live in. Eisenberg and Fanning deliver sharp, subtle performances that ooze these ideas from their pores even without the minimal dialog. Sarsgaard is much more complicated as a shady guy with predatory tendencies.
As it goes along, Reichardt stirs up some low-key suspense in several unexpected moments that centre on simple details. Things get more overtly scary with the events of the unnerving final act, but the pacing remains resolutely slow and hypnotic all the way through. Reichardt simply refuses to play up the story's more action-oriented elements, preferring to keep things bracingly realistic while stirring up the provocative internal drama and thematic ideas. This may make the film feel dull, but it makes a solid point in a haunting way.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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