Picks and Pans Review: Silverado
Here's a Western for people who think they hate Westerns. They don't, of course. It's just that they haven't seen one done right in years (Clint Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales in 1976 was the last in a long, great line including High Noon, The Searchers, Shane, Rio Bravo, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Wild Bunch). Silverado contains elements of each of these classics, slyly and affectionately refurbished by director Lawrence (The Big Chill) Kasdan, who co-wrote the invigorating script with his brother Mark. Kasdan's riskiest notion, and one that pays off handsomely, is casting theater-trained actors to play out his 1880s frontier tale. Kevin (Sophie's Choice) Kline and Scott (The Right Stuff) Glenn are two confused cowboys who come to the outlaw town of Silverado (the film was shot near Santa Fe) looking for their place in the world. Both have a yen for pretty homesteader Rosanna (Desperately Seeking Susan) Arquette. Kline runs the saloon owned by corrupt sheriff Brian (Cocoon) Dennehy, and Glenn must settle a score with an evil cattle baron, Ray Baker. When the bad guys kidnap a small boy and beat his mother, the heroes join forces with Danny (Places in the Heart) Glover, as a sinned-against black man, and Kevin (Fandango) Costner, as Glenn's sex-and-trigger-happy brother. Kline, Glenn and Glover have never been better, and newcomer Costner has the spark of a future star. The 132-minute film teems with scene-stealing supporting characters. Dennehy, Jeff Goldblum (as a gambler) and Monty Python's John Cleese (as a Limey lawman) may be the most unlikely villains in shoot-'em-up history. Amid these macho fireworks, the women fight a losing battle for screen time. Arquette makes a strong first impression and then vanishes. Kasdan also loses his nerve with an offbeat flirtation between Kline and a saloon hostess, brilliantly played by Linda (The Year of Living Dangerously) Hunt. This astonishing actress packs more wit, style and sassy self-assurance into her tiny frame than a wagonload of starlets. "What can I do you for, stranger?" she teases Kline from her perch behind the bar. Alas, Kline's kisses are reserved for his horse, leaving a promisingly unconventional love story unplumbed. But why nitpick? With its sweeping vistas, spiffy shoot-outs and surefire performances, Silverado is a lala-palooza. (PG-13)
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