Smoke

"Good"

Smoke Review


When you sit in the theater, staring up at the big screen, during the first few minutes of Smoke, you know you're watching an "Art Movie." Smoke obviously has no misgivings about its place in the film chain, being perhaps the best example of a pure character-driven drama to come along in ages.

The sketchy plotline defies explanation. Basically, Smoke is the lazy, drawn-out story of a smoke shop owner, Auggie (Harvey Keitel), his estranged lover (Stockard Channing), a favorite patron/novelist, Paul (William Hurt), and the young man who saves his life (newcomer Harold Perrineau). As $5,000 is kicked around among these characters, their lives interact in unpredictable ways. Sometimes this is interesting, often it's just tiresome.

Director Wayne Wang (of The Joy Luck Club) has taken a story in the vein of Twenty Bucks and basically dragged the comedy out of it in favor of giving us a talky melodrama. The slow and deliberate pacing of this film can't be stressed enough. Auggie himself points this out as Paul flips through his photo album: a series of pictures of the same street corner, one taken each morning at 8 a.m. Paul says he doesn't "get it." Auggie replies, "You'll never get it if you don't slow down." Wang himself explains that this scene is "the heart of the film."

That's a fine sentiment for an art gallery, but the last time I checked, variable-speed movie projectors were still not in heavy use. You can't slow down a film. It has a natural pace, and Wang has imposed an impossible gait on what could have been a memorable movie.

It's a shame too, because at the heart of Smoke are some genuine characters with excellent actors behind them. Smoke is not only a reference to the cigar store, but it's a metaphor for the fleetness of life, happiness, and prosperity. (You have to see one scene--the world's most dysfunctional picnic--to really digest this fully.)

In the end, sitting around, pontificating, smoking, and acting cool can only carry a movie so far. Maybe if Wang worked on entertaining the audience instead of experimenting with format, this film would have been a smoother smoke.



Smoke

Facts and Figures

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Friday 9th June 1995

Budget: $7M

Distributed by: Miramax

Production compaines: Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Augustus 'Auggie' Wren, as Paul Benjamin, as Tommy, as Jerry, as Dennis, as Jimmy Rose, as Thomas 'Rashid' Cole, as Cyrus Cole, as Ruby McNutt, as Felicity

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.