A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Night Moves is a drama about a group of radical environmentalists attempting a dangerous protest. It's a slow but suspenseful movie with plenty of moments in which to ponder and reflect, and it raises ideas and questions about food, energy, consumerism, and more -- sharp teens will find much to think and talk about here. There's some arguing, a struggle, and death; animal lovers will wince at a scene in which a dead yet pregnant deer is found by the side of the road. Language is infrequent but strong, including a few uses of "f--k" and "s--t." At a sauna, several women are seen topless, and there's a suggestion of sex sounds heard outside a trailer (mostly playful giggling). Characters sip beer in one scene, and some brands are briefly mentioned, but mostly in a negative way.
What's the story?
Three radical environmentalists prepare for the protest of their lives. Josh (Jesse Eisenberg) works on a produce-delivery farm; he's extremely private and pensive. Dena (Dakota Fanning) is a former rich girl disgusted with consumer society. And Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard) is an ex-Marine who seems to love blowing things up. Their target is a hydroelectric dam in Oregon; they hope its destruction will send a message about the rampant devouring of natural resources. Unfortunately, their act has unforeseen consequences, which leaves the trio newly examining their motives, messages, and indeed their very lives.
Is it any good?
Director Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy, Meek's Cutoff) is one of the smartest around, capable of telling simple stories with great stretches of moody, thoughtful exploration. A frequent criticism is that "nothing happens" in her movies, which, for a patient viewer, simply isn't true. In those quiet scenes, life itself can be found.
Night Moves is one of her most complex works yet, generating a slow-burning suspense. It focuses on characters who are hard to get at and hard to read. In one scene, Josh arrives to discover the sounds of Dena and Harmon inside a trailer giggling playfully. Are they making love? Is he jealous? Reichardt leaves these questions unanswered, using them simply to build tension. The eco-terrorist act itself is likewise confounding, not providing any kind of answer but simply more questions. What did they accomplish? Is a message more important than an idea? Most importantly, however, the concept of human life seems to trump everything.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Night Moves' destructive act of radical environmentalism. Was it right, wrong, or something in between? What if no one had been hurt?
How does the movie generate suspense while still moving relatively slowly? What did you see that created tension?
What does the movie have to say about food? What ideas did you come away with? Do you enjoy movies that make you think?
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love drama
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.