Harvey Keitel seemed very comfortable in his smoke shop, swearing, screaming, and bossing people around in his hometown of Brooklyn, NY. Cameo's from Stockard Channing and Forest Whitaker were very well acted and powerful. Everyone played their part well and helped the story piece together. This was a well written story adapted well to the screen.
My take away from this story is that everyone needs someone to love. This is a character study that follows lives that have been broken, devastated, and heartbroken as they search for hope through companionship with friends, former loved ones, and complete strangers. Each of these characters in an attempt to repair or build a family has lots of work ahead of them. We are left with a heartfelt story told by Keitel as he traced a thief into his blind grandma's project housing. Posing as her grandson, old, white Keitel and the elder black woman had dinner and wine together and laughed and socialized as if they knew each other their whole lives. The human need for love and company was apparent to Keitel and his heart kept him there in high spirits. It made her night and may have eased her pain of loneliness and disappointment. The experience seemed to humble Keitel and usher some form of forgiveness for the thievin' grandson.
"Where there's smoke... there's laughter!"
Smoke is a very good movie and wasn't quite what I was expecting. I'm not too familiar with Wayne Wang's work, only having seen Anywhere But Here before, but I was thoroughly impressed with this film. What we have here is basically an unstructured story, which was extremely popular in the nineties, centered around a cigar store in Brooklyn. The story follows a variety of characters from the cigar store owner, one of his customers, a young kid, an unknown father, and a woman from the past. It all melts together really well. This isn't a film for anyone. It's a conversational movie that has a lot of long monologues and storytelling, but for fans of these type of movies, it's heaven. I can't really think of better actors for the movie either. The main two, Harvey Keitel and William Hurt give terrific performances as always.
Smoke is a movie for the person who likes quiet movies that stay away from action and bullshit, that remain real and are just telling the story of human beings. That's what this is to me and that's why I like this movie, and movies like it so much. There's nothing flashy about the characters, there's no big twists, no action to speak of; it's just real life. Smoke blends comedy and drama together really well as well. It's too bad that this isn't a more well known film, but in the end it doesn't really matter. A great film is a great film.
Damn fine acting.