Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Silver City – Dicky Pilager Looks Alot Like Dubya

Written by John Sayles
Directed by John Sayles

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

John Sayles is the type of Writer and Director people either love or hate. With our common affinity for Bruce Springsteen, he’s always been someone whose work I enjoyed, although I question the wisdom of his attaching his name to the next incarnation of Jurassic Park. I find the majority of his films to be thought-provoking and acerbic, and Silver City is no different.

Who is Dicky Pilager? That’s the question people may think when they see and hear this movie for the first time. To me, it was obvious. As portrayed by Chris Cooper, Dicky Pilager represented George W. Bush, right down to the DWIs in his past.

Silver City takes place when Dicky is running for Governor of Colorado. Hot on the campaign trail, he’s filming an environmental piece when his fishing line hooks a dead body in a lake. His campaign manager and svengali, Chuck Raven (portrayed by Richard Dreyfus) quickly ushers him away from the scene and is determined to spin the incident to their advantage.

Meanwhile, Dicky goes through the campaign motions, and I swear some of the lines were taken directly from stuff I heard our illustrious former President say.

Junior can’t read if he’s high on crack!

A reporter, Danny O’Brien (portrayed by Danny Huston) latches onto Dicky’s connection with some developers through his very well-connected family and starts digging.

The problem is that Danny is going through the motions in life. He decided a little too late that Nora (portrayed by Maria Bello) was the woman for him. She’s also a journalist and has kept up the dedication to her field despite the fact that her newest love is willing to sell his soul to the tobacco industry.

Silver City spends much of the time following Danny around as he attempts to uncover the story. He moves in and out of the lives of some movers and shakers, including Dickie’s black-sheep sister Maddie (portrayed by Daryl Hannah). While comic relief is provided with cuts back to Pilager campaigning that is reminiscent of the Bush Countdown Calendar I once had on my wall, the overall tone of the movie is a slice-of-life murder mystery that involves corporate greed and manipulation of elections.

A government that supports traditional family values… and respects the sanctity of human life…

The cast is stellar and features many recognizable stars in supporting roles. I found myself distracted often by the faces. That’s not to say they aren’t perfect for their roles, from Kris Kristofferson capitalizing on the tones he created in Lone Star (another Sayles film), to Tim Roth finding his groove as a cross between Michael Moore and many conspiracy theorists.

The writing is great. Sayles doesn’t spend too much time pinning Pilager down as Dubya. It’s obvious fairly quickly that’s who he’s patterned after and Sayles doesn’t dwell on it. Cooper portrays Pilager with the same earnest, down-home, ineffectual ignorance of someone who just wants to take the next step in life and if that’s a political office then that’s cool with him. He doesn’t seem to grasp the seriousness of what he’s pursuing. Dreyfus is marvelous as the Rove-like neurotic Svengali. All of the supporting cast is wonderful, if distracting. Seeing Daryl Hannah as good as she was in this film was a sharp contrast to her clunky performance in Wall Street.

Where there are a few missteps in the film is that there’s too much going on at times and the core story gets lost in the shuffle. Silver City has the feeling that at some point Sayles shifted gears and wanted to get more digs in at the Bush Administration. Although it’s not overdone and doesn’t dominate the film, at times this holds back the pacing of the central story.

Still, Silver City is a good political satire. I liked it as much as Wag The Dog although I thought that film hit home with the topic much more than this film. Silver City seems to be playing its ironic parallels to real life strictly for laughs.

The script is smart, if convoluted. The characters are cast perfectly and work both as rooted in real life and as independent entities. Even if you don’t enjoy the political intrigue involved with the current administration and its detractors, you can still enjoy Silver City a great deal. It could have moved a bit faster and not gotten bogged down in some of the nods to our current President and his political history, but overall I enjoyed it.

3 1/2 stars


” Theatrical Trailer
” The Making of Silver City
” Trailer Gallery