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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

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.