Over the past week I’ve going to see some films showing as part of this year’s Cambridge Film Festival. I’ve notched up about six so far, and easily the best was the one I saw on Wednesday afternoon; John Sayles’ latest film, Silver City.
A mixture of dark comedy, thriller and political satire, it was at once funny, gripping, shocking, classy and intelligent. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, it tied several seemingly disparate plotlines together, L.A. Confidential-style, to weave a dark and terrible tale of modern America. At a photo-op for a dimwitted candidate for governor (the brilliant Chris Cooper), a corpse is discovered floating in a lake. Endearingly rumpled journalist turned private eye Danny O’Brien (Danny Huston) is hired to investigate, but ends up discovering more than his bosses would like.
Silver City draws together many plot strands; the buying and selling of political influence by lobbyists, tame journalists and spin doctors working hand in hand, the exploitation of undocumented migrant workers, the relaxing of environmental and industrial regulations. And it shoots them through with a thick vein of humour. Cooper’s tongue-tied, Dubya-esque Dicky Pilager in particular has a few hilarious scenes in which he’s caught by reporters without a script and comes close to verbally imploding.
This is a thriller that never takes its audience’s support for granted, as many recent ‘political’ works have. It resists cheap shots and easy arguments, and contains more truth than the heavy-handed Michael Moore school of dissent. As such, it deserves to be seen, so try and catch it when it comes out next Friday.