Smoke Signals

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +1 1/2

Content: -1 1/2

This contemporary drama depicts Victor Joseph (Adam Beach) as a young American Indian who must journey to Phoenix Arizona to recover his father 's remains. Accompanied by Thomas Builds-the-Fire (Evan Adams), Victor's trek across the country teaches him to forgive Arnold Joseph (Gary Farmer), his abusive father. During the trip, Thomas shares a series of pointless stories filled with so much fact and fiction that it blurs the truth. When they reach Arizona, Susie Song (Irene Bedard), a friend of Arnold's, explains the true reason why Victor's father abandoned his family and left Idaho. The film is cluttered with a series of flashbacks that portray Victor and Thomas as children, and continuously refer to an incident where Arnold saves baby Thomas from a burning building. This story is saved by a few scattered incidents of humor that are unique to the Native American culture. This includes an old Indian sitting on top of a van giving a traffic report about the three cars that drove past the reservation. Although this rather slow paced movie gives an insightful look at the modern American Indian, it may fail to entertain audiences who are unable to relate to the Native American.

As with most films about Indians, this film refers to magic and Indian spiritualism, but does not revolve around these concepts like many other films have. The soundtrack is filled with Indian chanting only to give the feeling of authenticity to the story. The use of alcohol is seen several times, but is depicted negatively as a drunken father destroys his life. The father beats his wife and son several times. This helps to introduce the theme of forgiveness, as the son must learn to forgive his abusive father. The few acts of violence center on the abusive father who strikes his family because of certain disputes. There is also a small fight that breaks out shortly after an auto accident, but the fight isn't that graphic. It is refreshing to see a film that has no sex or nudity; SMOKE SIGNALS should be commended for this. It does, however, contain many uses of obscene and crude language, including eight uses of the s-word and two regular profanities. This is just enough to keep SMOKE SIGNALS from being a recommendable movie.

Preview Reviewer: Rik Wyrick
Miramax Pictures, 375 Greenwich, NY NY 10013

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (13) times - Mild 9, Moderate 4

Obscene Language: Several (8) times (S-word 8)

Profanity: Several (8) times - (J 2, G-D 1, Jeez 5)

Violence: Few times - Moderate (Father hitting wife and kid, fight between two men, car accident)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Alcohol use a few times

Other: None

Running Time: 89 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teenagers and adults

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