Smoke Signals

Critics Consensus

Smoke Signals tells a familiar story from an underrepresented point of view, proving that a fresh perspective can help subvert long-established expectations.

83%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 30

82%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,378

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Movie Info

Arnold (Gary Farmer) rescued Thomas (Evan Adams) from a fire when he was a child. Thomas thinks of Arnold as a hero, while Arnold's son Victor (Adam Beach) resents his father's alcoholism, violence and abandonment of his family. Uneasy rivals and friends, Thomas and Victor spend their days killing time on a Coeur d'Alene reservation in Idaho and arguing about their cultural identities. When Arnold dies, the duo set out on a cross-country journey to Phoenix to retrieve Arnold's ashes.

Cast & Crew

Adam Beach
Victor Joseph
Evan Adams
Thomas Builds-the-Fire
Gary Farmer
Arnold Joseph
Tantoo Cardinal
Arlene Joseph
Cody Lightning
Young Victor Joseph
Simon R. Baker
Young Thomas Builds-the-Fire
Robert Miano
Burt Cicero
Molly Cheek
Penny Cicero
David Skinner
Executive Producer
Carl Bressler
Executive Producer
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Critic Reviews for Smoke Signals

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for Smoke Signals

  • Jan 21, 2014
    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.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 11, 2012
    A great addition to the Native film genre. This one was written, directed and acted with members of the community and it is lively and enchanting.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 21, 2010
    *sigh* this review isn't going to be very long. it's mainly for the people who have seen it. All I can say about this movie is this: "Heeey Victor, I heard you Dad died" Yep that's all I can say. anyone who has seen the movie knows what I'm talking about. TRIVIA TIME: The first movie to be written, directed, and co-produced by a Native American.
    Lord N Super Reviewer
  • Jan 15, 2009
    I recently finished reading Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" and felt compelled to revisit <i>Smoke Signals</i> 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, <i>Smoke Signals</i> is deceptively deep, intelligent and philosophical even if it's not perfectly crafted. .
    Randy T Super Reviewer

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