Silver City

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Silver City Movie Poster Image
Drama is too intense for kids and young teens.
  • R
  • 2004
  • 133 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.


Characters in peril, dead body, guns, characters killed.


Explicit sexual references and situations.


Some very strong language including "f--k."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking, smoking, drug use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has a lot of mature material, including explicit sexual references and situations, very strong language, and violence. Characters are in peril and some are badly injured or killed. Characters drink and smoke cigarettes and marijuana. While some characters exhibit racism, a strength of the movie is the loyal and respectful relationships between people of different races and its own frank portrayal of issues of race and class.

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What's the story?

SILVER CITY begins with "Hail to the Chief"-backed opening credits, then a legend across the screen, "Richard Pilager cares about Colorado." Called "Dicky" by his pals, the conservative political candidate (Chris Cooper) is filming an ad with a script that has him saying, "I've always turned to nature to sort things out in my mind, make sense of the world." But filming stops when Dicky's fishing line snags a dead body. Pilager's campaign manager Chuck (Richard Dreyfuss) hires investigator Danny O'Brien (Danny Houston) to see if one of Pilager's three most likely enemies had something to do with the body. Danny's investigation takes him to a mine safety expert whose career was destroyed by Pilager (Ralph Waite), illegal immigrant workers, left-wing reporters who keep databases of the web of connections between politicians and wealthy executives, and Pilager's bitter and angry sister, a woman who is overly fond of marijuana and archery, and Danny's own ex-girlfriend (Maria Bello), a reporter now engaged to a lobbyist.

Is it any good?

A movie about a dim, rich, conservative political candidate named "Pilager" who finds a corpse on the end of his fishing line when he is making a commercial is not going for subtlety. Did I mention that the family fortune started with manure? Do I need to tell you about the dead fish in the lake?

This is certainly lesser Sayles, shrill, cluttered, even a little silly in its heavy-handedness. But it's still watchable, with beautifully understated performances. If Sayles fails in his insights on the political side, he still knows how to create a dozen characters we want to spend time with and dialogue it is a pleasure to hear.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how accurately it portrays political issues relating to immigration, development, and the role of lobbyists. They could also talk about the ways that characters try to shape the way that information reaches politicians, the media, and the public.

Movie details

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