'Night Moves' director sees parallels between Manning, hero in her film
Filmmaker Kelly Reichardt, left, along with actress Dakota Fanning, centre, and actor Jesse Eisenberg, right, pose for a photograph on the red carpet at the gala for the new movie "Night Moves" during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu
Published Monday, September 9, 2013 9:35PM EDT
TORONTO -- Director Kelly Reichardt sees eerie parallels between Chelsea Manning and the troubled hero of her eco-thriller "Night Moves," screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Reichardt's script was written well before the former soldier, previously known as Bradley Manning, released a mountain of war logs and diplomatic cables to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
But the filmmaker says the bold act of rebellion --coupled with Manning's headline-grabbing diagnosis of gender identity disorder -- offer a real-life example of the kind of pressures facing her film's fictional eco-terrorist.
Jesse Eisenberg stars as the taciturn Josh, whose tightly wound emotions are intrinsically linked to a decision to blow up a dam to protest environmental atrocities.
As with her film's hero, Reichardt says there was clearly a lot of personal issues wrapped up in Manning's decision to disclose military secrets.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs through Sept. 15.
Reichardt's Oregon-set drama debuted in Toronto on the heels of winning the grand prize at the Deauville American Film Festival in France.
During a round of interviews Monday, Reichardt noted that intense personal pressures appeared to have pushed Manning in ways similar to Josh.
"That is a perfect example. Clearly there's a lot of personal wrapped up in the political," Reichardt said of Manning's very public outburst, which resulted in a prison term of 35 years.
"My heart goes out to her. She's too young to have to live with the consequences of all of her bad decisions."
In preparing for the role, Eisenberg said he thought a lot about Josh's psychology, and how it affected his actions. The primary question was one of identity, something Josh has very little sense of.
"The Social Network" star said Josh "thinks of himself as a soldier in a war," but has little capacity for introspection beyond that.
"He's kind of an enigma to himself," said the chatty Eisenberg.
"He doesn't really understand what he wants and that's why he's so quiet. He has, I think, a difficult time expressing himself and expressing the kind of very deep anger he has to other people. And because he has no release, he kind of explodes."