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The Suspense of Off-Screen Action in ‘Night Moves’

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Halfway through Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves, the film’s protagonists execute a carefully orchestrated act of ecoterrorism. It has finally arrived: our Norman Bates shower-stabbing scene, our climactic escape from the Shawshank. And all of the action happens off-screen.

This kind of barren climax isn’t uncommon for Reichardt, who spends much time in her films building up to a moment of catharsis, and has even admitted to manipulating time for this very cause, only to leave the viewer feeling even more apprehensive than before. This is certainly the case in Certain Women, a collage that follows the lives of four women, (Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, Lily Gladstone), which culminates, at the end, with one character driving all night to see another, only for their meeting to be terse and awkward. By no means do we feel satisfied, and that’s what’s so great about it. The same goes for Old Joy, a story of two friends (Daniel London, Will Oldham) growing apart that never really ends up resolving itself.

Night Moves follows a similar........

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