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Critically acclaimed as one of the best films of the year, SMOKE SIGNALS was also a distinguished winner at the Sundance Film Festival! Though Victor and Thomas have lived their entire young lives in the same tiny town, they couldn't have less in common! But when Victor is urgently called away, it's Thomas who comes up with the money to pay for his trip. There's just one thing Victor has to do: take Thomas along for the ride! You're in for a rare and entertaining comic treat as this most unlikely pair leave home on what becomes an unexpectedly unforgettable adventure of friendship and discovery!
Based on a couple of short stories (from The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven) by Sherman Alexie, Smoke Signals is a lean and assured feature that speaks well of its lengthy, rich evolution, including a development stint at Sundance. The first feature made by a Native American crew and creative team, the film concerns two young Idaho men with radically different memories of one Arnold Joseph (Gary Farmer), a former resident of the reservation who split years before and has just died in Phoenix. Arnold's strapping, popular son, Victor (Adam Beach), remembers him best as an alcoholic, occasionally abusive father who drove off one day and never came back. By contrast, Thomas Builds-the-Fire (Evan Adams), whom Arnold had saved from certain death years earlier, has chosen to exaggerate the man's life and deeds in a mythmaking fashion that drives Victor crazy. Circumstances bring the two together, however, in a bus ride to retrieve Arnold's ashes. There, in Phoenix, a confrontation with the reality of the dead man's fullest legacy has a profound effect on both characters. Alexie, who wrote the script and was personally involved in all aspects of the production, and first-time director Chris Eyre are so polished in their approach that you can barely feel the cinematic engine at work here. This is the kind of movie in which the characters seem to be driving everything forward, a captivating and pleasant experience that gets a little too tidy at the end (can we call a moratorium on scenes of human ashes lovingly disposed to the winds?), but which is undeniably moving. The cast, including Irene Bedard (the voice of and physical inspiration for Disney's Pocahontas) is outstanding. --Tom Keogh
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As the film begins in Idaho, on an Indian Reservation, it is the Fourth of July, 1976. This is the day, baby Thomas Builds-the-Fire, is saved by being thrown from an upper window when his house burns down in the middle of the night. He is caught by Arnold Joseph, played by Gary Farmer, a drunk neighbor who is eventually thrown out by his wife, Tantoo Cardinal. He leaves his son, Victor Joseph, played by Adam Beach, who is the love of Arnold's life. Off he goes to live in Phoenix.
When Victor becomes a young man, his mother is notified that Arnold has died, and someone should come and pick up his things. Mom only had $40, but Thomas, the know it all and talks all the time, has money, and he offers it to Victor, if Thomas can accompany him on the adventure. Off They Go, and what an adventure they behold. The native Americans are still not looked at as they should be, but these two behave on the way to Phoenix. In Phoenix they meet Arnold's friend, a lovely young woman. Victor filled with righteous anger and Thomas a free spirit find the world.
This was such a well developed film, superb acting, wonderful writing and directing, a joy to watch. Not maudlin nor sad, but filled with some very humorous scenes. Two young men with not much in common, find themselves, and give us an excelkent film.
Highly Recommended. prisrob 06-06-17
It's a wonderful story about how 2 young boys, forever linked together by tragedy & growing up differently - one a storyteller & the other a cynic, find common ground as they take a road trip to bury the cynics father, who abandoned the family a long time before. It may move slowly for some, but I found it both humorous & inspiring
It is also a great story depicting the difficulty and struggles to find themselves that young men who are raised without a dad (or without a reliable dad) may go though. I raised my son alone and could really relate to the two main characters... one whose parents died when he was a baby and the other who had a dad who was very disappointing. Young men raised that way always have things they need to reconcile about their relationship with their fathers, or they may never find themselves and move on to a better place in their lives.