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Smoke Signals

Smoke Signals (1998)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.

audience

82

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 10,130

My Rating

Movie Info

This dramatic feature was written, directed, and co-produced by Native Americans. Native American writer Sherman Alexie scripted this adaptation of his 1993 short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Director Chris Eyre's previous short Someone Kept Saying Powwow is incorporated into the 88-minute feature. Developed at the Sundance Lab in 1995, the film was a winner of both the Audience Award and the Filmmakers' Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. In 1976, an

PG-13,

Drama, Comedy, Special Interest

Sherman Alexie

Jul 27, 1999

Miramax Films

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Cast

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All Critics (48) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (4) | DVD (5)

It was shocking to realize that as late as 1998, this was still one of the few movies made by insiders, written, directed, and acted by Native Americans. The father-son narrative is conventional but it has humor and is well acted.

December 2, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

A brilliantly performed movie....Beach is a knockout

May 6, 2005
Moviehole

Native American themed story has great moments

October 23, 2004

A resolutely so-so movie puffed beyond all recognition by non-First Nation critics looking to expiate their dimly-felt sense of historic debt.

July 5, 2004 | Comments (3)

A moving and engrossing look at life on The Rez for two Native American youths. Adam Beach's performance is admirable. Irene Bedard is gorgeous and mesmerizing.

May 23, 2003 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

It wasn't perfectly put together, the actors were sometimes too enthusiastic or not enough ... but it really touched me.

October 27, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

The good news is that Smoke Signals is a movie that requires no dispensation ...

July 31, 2002 Full Review
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The film pokes fun at the interface between life on "the rez" and the dominant white culture. It also reveals how ritual and friendship can be healing medicine.

March 2, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

best film ever made that captures the real character and spirit of modern Native Americans

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews

The central character is so superficially conceived that you never feel the force of his culture or ethnicity.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Film Journal International | Comment (1)
Film Journal International

Smoke Signals won the 1998 Sundance Festival film of the year.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Smoke Signals

Sherman Alexie is one of most important Native American fiction writers of the past century, and with this adaptation of his short story we see the real strife of these people, living in reservations. The film follows a young man (Beach) and an old friend (Adams) who take a road trip to put his father to rest. The film deals with prevalent issues in the Native American community including poverty, alcoholism, and racism from a heavily white population. Having Native American protagonists and a heavily NA cast is pretty unheard of in many films, even recently, and seeing this story made is really quite interesting. The story is a little rushed, as the journey takes a short amount of time. Most of what we see is Victor (Beach) trying to understand the legacy that his father has left for him. We see a transformation, but it goes by so fast that it's hard to savor exactly what has occurs before the story inevitably ends. We're also not sure what either Thomas or Victor will ultimately do now that this "adventure" has taken place. It just doesn't have the strength behind it that the original story invokes.
January 21, 2014
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

I recently finished reading Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" and felt compelled to revisit Smoke Signals for about the 8th or 9th time. I love this film a little more every time I view it, which is easy to do considering that the first time I saw it I just wasn't that impressed. I had felt that, in their quest to have the first "All Indian" movie, they had sacrificed a little quality and technical expertise. Maybe I still feel that's true but it's not something I notice much any more. Now I find myself engrossed in the rich characters, especially Arnold (Evan Adams). Arnold is a misfit and yet he might be the most 'indian' character in the entire ensemble. He's bright, he's introspective, and he's terribly, terribly honest. Even when he's embellishing stories he is still exposing truths.

Much like it's screenwriter, Smoke Signals is deceptively deep, intelligent and philosophical even if it's not perfectly crafted. .
February 2, 2011
flixsterman
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]"Smoke Signals" starts at a celebration on July 4, 1976 on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation where Arnold Joseph(Gary Farmer) made a stuning catch to save the life of infant Thomas, while his parents died in a fiery blaze. Later, Arnold cut his hair short before disappearing from the reservation, leaving behind his wife(Tantoo Cardinal) and young son, Victor. As an adult(Adam Beach), Victor receives word that his father died in Phoenix. But because he is broke, he cannot go there to claim the body and possessions. However, Thomas(Evan Adams) agrees to fund him, as long as he can tag along...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Smoke Signals" is a an endearing seriocomic road movie that is more concerned with the destination than with the journey.(I suppose there is some symbolism in the men going from the sight of a fire to Phoenix but maybe I'm just reading too much into it.) The movie is about redemption and forgiveness as Victor tries to reconcile the abusive father he once knew with the memories that other people have of him. That is why, as with any story, it does not really matter if it is exactly true, as long as the essence of it is right.[/font]
August 10, 2008
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

    1. Victor Joseph: You gotta look mean, or people won't respect you. White people will run all over you if you don't look mean. You gotta look like a warrior. You goth look like you just came back from killing a buffalo.
    2. Thomas Builds-the-Fire: But our tribe never hunted buffalo. We were fishermen.
    – Submitted by Frances H (15 months ago)
    1. Thomas Builds-the-Fire: Hey Victor! I'm sorry 'bout your dad.
    2. Victor Joseph: How'd you hear about it?
    3. Thomas Builds-the-Fire: I heard it on the wind. I heard it from the birds. I felt it in the sunlight. And your mom was just in here cryin'.
    – Submitted by Justin B (18 months ago)
    1. Thomas Builds-the-Fire: Hey Victor! I remember the time your father took me to Denny's, and I had the Grand Slam Breakfast. Two eggs, two pancakes, a glass of milk, and of course my favorite, the bacon. Some days, it's a good day to die. And some days, it's a good day to have breakfast.
    – Submitted by Justin B (18 months ago)
    1. Thomas Builds-the-Fire: Hey Victor!
    – Submitted by Yeleng Sleeps Y (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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