> Volume 6 > Number 26


John Sayles

Danny Huston
Maria Bello
Daryl Hannah
Miguel Ferrer
Chris Cooper
Kris Kristofferson

Release: 17 Sept. 04

Silver City


Always the activist, John Sayles takes clear aim at the Bush administration with Silver City, timing it to have an impact on the upcoming election despite the fact that most Sayles fans are likely liberals anyway. But preaching to the choir can still be profitable (just ask Michael Moore), and Sayles chooses to ignite his passion for politics in the film, which might be the main reason why Silver City ultimately fails.

In many ways emulating Robert Altmanís Nashville, Silver City isnít so much about the characters who exist within the story, but the socio-political meaning of their relations. But unlike Nashville, the character dynamics are so short-changed that the politicking becomes overbearing (he even inserts faux campaign commercials for the filmís inept conservative, played by a wonderful Chris Cooper, now running in the Colorado gubernatorial election whose powerful father and extensive business connections will ride him into the governorís mansions and possibly the White House). Sayles isnít at his best when he lets the Message of his work overpower the devices heís found, which is partly why Limbo, his masterpiece, will be remembered for its statements on storytelling, not its statements on the crude development of Alaska.

Here heís styling everything in a Man of Marble/Chinatown style, producing a private detective (Huston) to piece together a story of corporate greed and mistreatment of Mexican immigrants. Unlikely to convert anyone not already on the boat, these two issues are pure Sayles but his ungainly way of dealing with them feels more parody than treatise, and the filmís concluding moments only further the filmís need for a running laugh track

©2004, David Perry,, 25 June 2004