Night Moves Reviews
Sometimes you see these neglected gems and it's completely baffling how they failed to find an audience at the time, but with Night Moves I can sort of understand how it slipped through the net. And it's not surprising that the film's critical stock began to rise with the advent of home video, when it became possible to re-examine atypically rich examples of cinema to ones heart's content. In my experience, if there's one thing an audience cannot stand it's a movie that makes them feel stupid, and, simply put - and I don't mean this as a criticism, as the effect is certainly intentional - Night Moves is probably the most forbiddingly opaque and ambiguous thriller of the 1970s.
Honestly, if you're one of those people who hates loose ends and likes a nice pat denouement, do yourself a favour and stay well clear of this because it will drive you up the wall! The first time you watch it, it's largely incoherent; the characters and their respective motivations emerge more clearly with each subsequent viewing, but there's still no getting away from the fact that no matter how many times you watch it, the movie remains a riddle without a solution, or rather a riddle with any number of different solutions.
R.I.P. Bruce Surtees, director of photography, 1937-2012
Arthur Penn's Night Moves is good example of noir, but it isn't a fantastic film. Why? The story is intriguing enough and it certainly holds many of the traits found in film noir, but it just doesn't have the "oomph" that it needs. You understand what I mean? Night Moves is a good film, but it needs to be a great film. With a story like this, it has to be.
I don't blame the cast or really even the direction. In fact, I'm not sure who to blame. Just know that the blame goes to someone, even if that someone doesn't have a face. This film is just a slight tick above average, when it should be powerful. It's a film about morals, family morals. The message is there, black and white. But Night Moves just doesn't have the... Well, I'm done trying to explain.
Gene Hackman continues to impress me with these younger roles. He is a fine actor and I see that now. His work nowadays doesn't really even being to compare with his 70's and 80's filmography. Here in Night Moves, his performance is one of the most attractive things. It's one of the best things that this film has to offer.
Just don't go into Night Moves with high expectations, like the critics will get you to believe with their 4/4 star ratings. This is not a fabulous picture. This is not even a great noir. It's a good noir, and watch it because of that. There's no real mystery to look for.
It's just all in the message. And that's what counts.