Smoke Signals | Chicago Reader

Smoke Signals

Good-natured but haunting, elliptical and repetitive as narrative but extremely likable, this is a poignant and sometimes funny story about two young Native American men (Adam Beach and Evan Adams) who travel from their Idaho reservation to Phoenix to retrieve the ashes of an estranged father of one of them. Directed by Chris Eyre and adapted by Sherman Alexie from stories in his book The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, this 1998 film has been billed as the first feature written, directed, and coproduced by American Indians, and while its general notations about being Native American are nothing to sneeze at, its particularities are the best thing about it. Gary Farmer, who was so memorable in Dead Man, gives an equally impressive but more abbreviated performance as the father, and the others in the cast portray the kind of characters you wind up remembering. PG-13, 88 min.

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