Three radical environmentalists look to execute the protest of their lifetimes, by blowing up a hydroelectric dam. Directed by Kelly Reichardt and starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Saarsgard and Alia Shawkat.
There’s a quality to the film that makes the actors chosen perfect choices, beginning with Eisenberg despite his reputation of constant nervous or awkward characters, there’s something much more to this one. It’s an interesting mix of confidence and strength with an energy of being afraid and on edge, a combination which goes for all our three principle actors. There’s a sense to each of them of being something different, outsiders which blends unbelievably well with the story and its progression, without much needing to be said they’re still performances that keep your eyes on the screen. Saarsgaard is not quite as present as Eisenberg and Fanning so his screen time and performance are slightly limited but he still does well with what he’s given, providing a quality that causes the audience to not know quite who to trust. For Eisenberg and Fanning however that primary interest they create is only heightened as the story delves into dealing with the consequences of their actions.
The story itself is well written, it does a lot with very little and creates a gripping plot out of fairly limited information and leaves a great deal for the audience’s own perception. There’s a feeling that’s entwined throughout the whole film of uncertainty, something almost unsettling of not knowing what may happen or who are the good guys or bad guys, and it’s surprisingly quite a good thing. It’s slow to move forward and the introductions of the characters and their intentions are fairly brief but it all adds to the air of mystery surrounding the events. It’s very much a quiet, understated thriller but it is incredibly tense and shot so well that the slow progress of the story is barely noticeable.
Overall it’s a quietly unsettling film but in the best of ways, it does not achieve or show that much in its run time but the success is the way it’s been made to have such tension and suspense. Reichardt has definitely created a film which makes it hard to look away, and yet it’s hard to keep looking because everything is so uncertain and on edge which makes something that might at first come across as a difficult watch, utterly watchable.