Smoke Signals

"Excellent"

Smoke Signals Review


To those who think the world of watching movies as a job all fun and games, remember that it is a chore as well. You are forced to sit through numerous bad movies, forced to lose faith slowly and surely in the film industry until it is almost gone. The cynicism you harbor eats you up inside until you have nothing left but your own cruel intentions towards an industry that you have no affinity left for.

Then, as hope has dwindled to an almost non-existent point, you sit back and watch a film like Smoke Signals. Smoke Signals is one of those rare movies that you never hear a bad word about. It is one of those films that comes out of nowhere, has no big names or bad lines, and is a completely original story... in short, the main things most movies lack.

Rarely does a film touch you so much as Smoke Signals can, nor does it make you smile or cry like this immensely powerful film can do.

Set on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation in Idaho, Smoke Signals concerns Victor Joseph (Adam Beach as an adult, Cody Lightning as a child) and Thomas Builds-the-Fire (Evan Adams as an adult, Simon Baker as a child), both, according to Sherman Alexie, "children born of fire." By this it is meant that the two of them were both almost killed in the same fire that took Thomas' parents 22 years ago on the Fourth of July. Arnold Joseph (Gary Farmer) saved Thomas by catching him in his arms when he was thrown out of the window by his parents in order to save him from the holocaust.

Arnold Joseph, haunted by his own guilt for his abusive treatment of his family and a secret that tears him apart inside, left for Phoenix when Thomas and Victor were only 12, and, ten years later, the two of them must go retrieve his ashes from his next door neighbor Suzy Song (Irene Bedard).

The story sounds highly simplistic, and it is. It also serves to be a perfect method in which to examine the troubled relationships between fathers and sons, and seeks to find a definition of a good man.

As much as I talk of myself in my reviews, writing this it strikes me how very little I tell you in them. I opt not to speak of my own relationships with others, nor my own personal demons and hauntings. Faced with Smoke Signals, I would love to recommend the film more to you but cannot do so without entering into how the film is made personal for me.

That feeling that the film is personal is universal with Smoke Signals, which means different things to different people but is always a powerful and personal story to everyone. The film is strictly word-of-mouth, recommended by one friend to another, and there is a reason for that. Smoke Signals is so intensely personal that it is difficult to get into why it is such a perfect movie without drifting into one's own past... something which most people will only do with people they trust.

What can be told without getting too personal is that, whatever walls you may have built up over the course of your life, Smoke Signals contains with it the raw power to break them with a thought. It is a film that you will enjoy, whether or not you set out to enjoy it.



Smoke Signals

Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Friday 26th June 1998

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Production compaines: ShadowCatcher Entertainment, Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 25 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Scott M. Rosenfelt

Starring: as Arnold Joseph, as Arlene Joseph, as Young Victor Joseph, as Young Thomas Builds-the-Fire, Monique Mojica as Grandma Builds-the-Fire, John Trudell as Randy Peone

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

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...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.