"Silver City"'s lead has George W. Bush's speaking style, but the film spoofs liberals, conservatives, alternative and establishment papers, environmentalists, and polluters. Even good guys are compromised; a private eye is the hero. Unexpected connections and hidden agendas appear; slipping under the radar, information travels, wounds, or kills.
Dickie Pilager (Cooper), backed by his father (Murphy), a senior senator, and by industrial interests wanting lighter pollution controls, is running for governor of Colorado. Speaking in front of a lake, he mumbles environmental platitudes. But he has power. A Karl Rove type, his campaign manager Chuck Raven (Dreyfuss), tells Pilager what to say and how, if rarely why. Other characters surround the campaign as subplots arise. A body is found; private eye Danny O'Brien (Huston), a shambling, charming loser, investigates.
Nora Allardyce (Bello), a local journalist who used to be involved with Danny, finds a connection between the murder and the campaign. Once a fearless reporter for a small newspaper that a conglomerate swallowed, she's now an outsider, but engaged to a lobbyist (Zane), who knows everything, and swells with pride in knowing it. Other important characters include cynical millionaire mine owner - a polluter funding Pilager's campaign - Wes Benteen (Kristofferson), a cynic who delights in shocking people. He disdains conventional wisdom.
The best support character, Madeleine Pilager (Hannah), Dickie's renegade sister, detests him, and shocks and upsets people. The private eye and the campaign manager, two people whose lives should not cross, are connected. This film is sadder than angry; people here share unworthy interests. Sayles' murder-mystery-&-satire plot allows uncertainty, as he brilliantly deflates idealism with weary reality. Not all wrongs are righted, and some answers don't help.
The lead character, similar to George W. Bush, uses platitudes to hide behind, just as Bush expresses noble environmental ideas while working to allow more pollution, and is backed by giant energy companies. The movie's brave, honest cynicism and resignation remind us that virtue can go unrewarded, crime unpunished, and the system is rotten in many ways. No one in it can be untouched. Some characters are not all bad, but their options are limited, and their will is fading.
Daryl Hannah, Richard Dreyfuss, Chris Kristofferson, Mary Kay Place, Michael Murphy, Chris
Corrupt candidates; Colorado; political backers that pollute
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