The Exiles

Critics Consensus

An historic film, The Exiles combines gritty realism and a loosely-spun, improvisational narrative to capture the lives of Native Americans adrift in a run-down Los Angeles neighborhood in the early 1960s.



Total Count: 37


Audience Score

User Ratings: 313
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Movie Info

The Exiles is the story of one wild but typical night in the lives of three young American Indians who have left their reservations to live in downtown Los Angeles. It presents the lifestyles and actions of these people that are "not true of all Indians of the time--but typical of many."


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Critic Reviews for The Exiles

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (4)

  • Kent MacKenzie's forgotten indie basks in the retroactive glow of never having had a theatrical release -- as if that somehow makes it a work of misunderstood genius.

    Nov 17, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A fascinating hybrid of art and life, The Exiles may not hew entirely faithfully to literal truth but nonetheless conveys a form of artistic honesty that is inescapable. It's a mesmerizing marriage of poetry and prose.

    Sep 24, 2011 | Full Review…
  • A ghostly and startling tale of Native Americans in Los Angeles -- a fusion of documentary and fiction -- in the late '50s. Never previously released, it's a revelation.

    Sep 7, 2011 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
  • The Exiles ... presents one boozy night in the lives of Homer, Cliff, Tommy and Yvonne, from a convertible joy ride through the Third Street Tunnel, to an early-morning powwow.

    Nov 20, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Kent Mackenzie's magnificent, long-undistributed, unclassifiable first feature, The Exiles, stands as a rare consideration of the inner and outer lives of American Indians in a big American city.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Rife with astonishing black-and-white images of an unknown L.A. and clashing sounds of bars, cinemas and poker games, The Exiles is one of those movies that functions as both artifact and fresh discovery.

    Oct 10, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4

Audience Reviews for The Exiles

  • Jun 15, 2012
    it is a time capsule of los angeles and a moving portrait of young urban indians in the late 1950s. featuring untrained actors who are startlingly natural and beautiful b/w photography of an LA that has changed beyond recognition, the film follows young men on a friday night of drinking from barhopping to their after party high above the city, where they drum and dance to recall their faraway homes. a remarkable film
    Stella D Super Reviewer
  • Apr 04, 2012
    I don't know how to react to this film. Am I supposed to empathize with these lazy, sluggish Indian men? Aimless, callous, unemployed spongers who do nothing but drink, smoke, flirt, fight and play cards? It's as if the script aims to reinforce negative stereotypes. "The Exiles" has virtually no dramatic shape. The men do nothing useful, while the women work and quietly endure their unhappiness. The story spans about a day, and nothing transformative occurs. And most of the dialogue and ambient noise is awkwardly looped in post-production -- this is alienating. In particular, the casual chatter in bars and cafes is painfully stiff. The filmmakers deserve credit for making a worthwhile sociological statement on a non-existent budget but, beyond that, there's little to recommend "The Exiles" beyond some interesting glimpses of early-'60s Los Angeles.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 04, 2012
    [font=Century Gothic]At its best when photographing the exteriors of a lost city, "The Exiles" is an ethnographic docudrama about a trio of American Indians(Yvonne Williams, Homer Nish & Tom Reynolds) over a twelve hour period in Los Angeles. The men hang out, play poker, and get drunk. For them, they have lost confidence in the future, being twice removed from their traditional lives. Yvonne who is pregnant is lonely as she goes to the movies while the men make the rounds before spending the night at a friend's place. For herself, any hope for the future she reserves for her unborn child for whom she is staying in the city to give him a better chance at leading a rewarding life.[/font]
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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