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.



Total Count: 30


Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,365
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Movie Info

The unavoidable synopsis -- two young American Indians leave the reservation to resolve their problems and to find themselves -- belies the poetry of this well-acted, well-directed and largehearted movie.

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Adam Beach
as Victor Joseph
Evan Adams
as Thomas Builds-the-Fire
Irene Bedard
as Suzy Song
Tantoo Cardinal
as Arlene Joseph
John Trudell
as Randy Peone
Cody Lightning
as Young Victor Joseph
Simon R. Baker
as Young Thomas Builds-the-Fire
Monica Mojica
as Grandma Builds-the-Fire
Leonard George
as Lester Fallsapart
Monique Mojica
as Grandma Builds-the-Fire
Michael Greyeyes
as Junior Polatkin
Cynthia Geary
as Cathy The Gymnast
Tom Skerritt
as Police Chief
Todd Jamieson
as Jesuit No. 1
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Critic Reviews for Smoke Signals

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (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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