In a country filled with such great political skeptics, it is not unusual to find humor in the concept of trust in politics at any level of power. Corporate control over American politics continues to regulate what most Americans are told is relevant to legislative forums. As one of today’s most overlooked writer/directors, John Sayles implements his own personal witty perspective in his new film “Silver City” (NewMarket Films), starring Sayles regulars Chris Cooper and Daniel Huston.
Sayles uses a thinly veiled story to cast doubt on the state of current politics, clearly mimicking George W. Bush’s rise to the presidency. Chris Cooper plays Richard ‘Dickie’ Pilager (pronounced “pillager”), a slow-witted, easily manipulated gubernatorial candidate being strung along by his father in the Senate and his domineering, Karl Rove-esque campaign manager (Richard Dreyfuss).
The story begins as Cooper’s character discovers a floating corpse in a lake while shooting an environmentally friendly ad for his campaign. Dreyfuss hires Danny O’Brien (Huston), a reporter-turned-private investigator, to look into the mystery surrounding the body and to keep it from leaking to the media. From here the two plots intertwine as ‘Dickie’ continues his campaigning, mirroring the tones and phrases of the great Dubya himself. Kris Kristofferson plays Wes Benteen, the millionaire mogul feeding generously into Pilager’s campaign machine under the spoken agreement that Pilager make the necessary environmental regulatory changes in order to allow his company the rights to build a new gated community know as Silver City, Col.
If nothing else, the film masters art in cynicism while maintaining a textured visual style amid the Rocky Mountain backdrop. On a smaller scale, Benteen’s company mirrors the relationship between Enron and its contributions to George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential bid. Perhaps used to keep the story from allowing the campaign story from becoming repetitious, the banal love affair Danny O’Brien encounters needlessly makes the film more complex and creates more emphasis on the cover-up of the floating corpse. Although this held the story together, it managed to successfully draw attention away from “Silver City’s” well-executed character’s wit.
Sayles’ film feels like the derivative of “Wag the Dog” and “Saturday Night Live’s” Bush parodies via Will Ferrell under the direction of the under appreciated Sayles. While the audience may perceive this as an anti-Bush declaration in an election year, as a political satire, it was more an unoriginal blast at an easy target.