Socialist Worker

Bush bashing in Silver City

by Nick Grant
Issue No. 1962

The mystery thriller film Silver City was conceived for and released during the 2004 US presidential election. Director John Sayles wanted to intervene in the election.

Right wing candidate for governor Dickie Pilager fishes a body from the lake while filming a promotional video.

His handler Chuck Raven strives to bury this bad news because his hunch is that this was no mere accident.

Dickie looks uneasy with his role as the stooge candidate backed by the corporate minority. He is dim and inarticulate in a deliberately Bush-ish way.

The rhetoric of “freedom” and “family values” and the string of sentences with laughable conclusions are familiar verbal traits.

Anyone who has followed US politics at all in the last ten years will want to see this movie. There are many excellent moments of historical allusion, acting and scriptwriting.

Any movie by Sayles is going to be in a league above many other films.

His work over the last 35 years makes him the best independent English language film artist of that period. However, there are too many issues rammed in to Silver City.

It seems Sayles is just desperate to get all his shots in on target — corporate control of politicians, poisoning of water supplies, land-grabbing double-talking profiteers, the racist exploitation of Hispanics.

But the artistic consequence of this is that Sayles “tells” rather than “shows” the story.

Characters are in a state of permanent reminiscence in order to tick all Sayles’ political boxes.

In rejecting Hollywood’s traditional criteria for an acceptable script—of heroism, individualism, absence of class consciousness, completion and conventional justice — Sayles has forgotten that Hollywood also works because it has scenes of action.

At 128 minutes Silver City is too rich a cinematic dish to digest at one screening, and not tasty enough to make you return for seconds.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Sat 6 Aug 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1962
Share this article

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.