As the extremely withdrawn Don Johnston is dumped by his latest woman, he receives an anonymous letter from a former lover informing him that he has a son who may be looking for him. A freelance sleuth neighbor moves Don to embark on a cross-country search for his old flames in search of answers.
K. O'Connor, a young journalist known for her celebrity profiles, is consumed with discovering the truth behind a long-buried incident that affected the lives and careers of showbiz team Vince Collins and Lanny Morris.
Set against the backdrop of a mythic "New West," a satire that follows grammatically-challenged, "user-friendly" candidate Dicky Pilager, scapegrace scion of Colorado's venerable Senator Jud Pilager, during his gubernatorial campaign. When Pilager finds that he's reeled in a corpse during the taping of an environmental political ad, his ferocious campaign manager, Chuck Raven, hires former idealistic journalist turned rumpled private detective Danny O'Brien to investigate potential links between the corpse and the Pilager family's enemies. Danny's investigation pulls him deeper and deeper into a complex web of influence and corruption, involving high stakes lobbyists, media conglomerates, environmental plunderers, and undocumented migrant workers. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
While not at the level of the best Sayles movies (Lone Star, The Secret of Roan Inish, etc.), Silver City is still entertaining. The film suffers a bit from trying to do too much, and not quite making it all the way to any of its targets. But there's still a lot to enjoy.
My first thought while watching this movie was: hey, Chris Cooper isn't the star! Since his face is featured on the poster, and he starred in Lone Star, and is generally considered an A List actor these days, this was a bit of a surprise. The lead actor turned out to be Danny Huston, half-brother of Angelica, son of John, grandson of Walter, etc. Huston's character, Danny O'Brien, is hired by the Pilager campaign to intimidate a few enemies of Dickie Pilager (Cooper) after a dead body shows up in a lake during a campaign photo op. But O'Brien is by nature anti-establishment, and instincts from his previous life as an investigative journalist kick in, so he starts to investigate much more than he was hired to.
The supporting cast is terrific, though many of them (Tim Roth and Thora Birch come to mind) are wasted in tiny roles. Aside from Huston and Cooper, the only actors given much to work with are Maria Bello as his ex-girlfriend, who also happens to be a political reporter, Richard Dreyfuss as the Rove-like campaign manager, and Sal Lopez as a Mexican chef that O'Brien gets involved in investigating the background of the victim. Daryl Hannah has a nice small role as Maddy Pilager, the candidate's sister.
The general problem the movie has is that it seems a bit indecisive as to whether it's about immigration or about politics. It seems to be a bit more about immigration than politics, and other films such as Redford's "The Candidate" have covered the latter ground with considerably more energy and insight. Some reviewers have noted a parallel to the Huston masterpiece "Chinatown" - but that's a high standard to aim for, and Silver City really doesn't come close. The script is far too disjointed, and Danny Huston is just not close to Nicholson's level as an actor. Still, the movie is enjoyable, especially for its insights into the migrant worker community, which is usually ignored by most Americans.
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