In the acclaimed Wendy and Lucy (2008), writer-director Kelly Reichardt and screenwriter Jon Raymond submerged their anger over America’s fraying social safety net in a simple story of a homeless young woman and her dog; this excellent drama is more explicit politically but marries the rhetoric to a slow-burning suspense story that won’t let go. Three scruffy young eco-terrorists (Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard) plot to blow up a dam in Oregon with a boatful of explosives, but in the finest noir tradition, something goes terribly wrong and they break ranks. Eisenberg, an actor prone to strutting and preening, gives his most restrained and effective performance in years, and Fanning is perfectly believable as an east-coast rich girl who bankrolls the operation but can’t live with the consequences. As in Wendy and Lucy, the natural and social environs are impeccably authentic, in this case conveying the bohemian radicalism of the Portland area that nurtures the trio’s dangerous scheme.
R • 1 hour 53 min • 2014