Dir/scr/ed: John Sayles.US. 2004. 128mins

With his political satireslash noir murder mystery Silver City, American maverick John Saylesmight just have made his most commercial movie to date.

While much of the film'stopicality, especially in the US, might have rested on last month's USelection, the return of George W Bush to power means that it has a currencythat still resonates.

Silver Cityhas taken just over $1m in the US after opening on 114 screens in September:sales announced by NonStop Sales - which has over sales from Myriad Pictures -include Tartan Films for the UK and Ireland, California Films for Brazil andRoma Movie for Italy.

While shooting a campaignadvert by a Rocky Mountains lake, Silver City's gubernatorial candidate 'Dim'Dicky Pilager (Cooper) hooks a corpse on his fishing line. His calculatingcampaign manager (Dreyfuss) hires an investigator (Huston) to examine if it's adirty tricks ploy - but the PI gets in over his head.

Sayles makes no effort todisguise who his satire is aimed at, and in an almost too obvious way duringthe credits merges the voice of Bush with that of Pilager.

Other striking similaritiesinclude the candidate's ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time-possibly the funniest scenes in the film - his headstrong father and thefinancial support from right-wing companies.

But Sayles also does morethan poke fun at a gullible politician, also throwing illegal migrant workers,lobbyists and corporate conglomerates into the mix.

Sadly these elements are onlyever used as a fun background. Instead Sayles concentrates on the wrong storythread in the unengaging murder investigation and, in the process, both storyand tension run out long before the end credits.

Dreyfuss' neurotic spindoctor, Cooper's goofy politician and Kris Kristofferson's calculating villainall warrant more screen time, yet instead we are left with Huston'sdispassionate detective. Still, Daryl Hannah makes a surprisingly sharpappearance as Pilager's disillusioned sister.

The grainy lens of veterancinematographer Haskell Wexler, who also shot Limbo, The Secret Of Roan Inishand Matewan, gives the film a documentary like quality.

Prod co: Anarchists' Convention
Int'l sales:
US dist:
Newmarket Films
Maggie Renzi
Haskell Wexler
Prod des:
Toby Corbett
Mason Daring
Main cast:
Danny Huston, MariaBello, Billy Zane, Chris Cooper, Richard Dreyfuss, Daryl Hannah, KrisKristofferson, Tim Roth, Thora Birch