Smoke | Chicago Reader

Smoke

Though Wayne Wang is the credited director, the real auteur of this interlocking set of Brooklyn miniplots is novelist Paul Auster, evidently trying to work off some white liberal guilt in his ambitious original script about fate and crisscrossing destinies. William Hurt plays a novelist mourning the death of his pregnant wife who temporarily adopts a fatherless black teenager (Harold Perrineau) who's tracking down his real father (Forest Whitaker); Harvey Keitel is the philosophical owner of the local cigar store who takes a daily photograph on the street outside his establishment; and Stockard Channing is Keitel's former girlfriend who reappears with a drug-addicted daughter in tow. Despite a certain grace in the dialogue and casual plot construction, this is positively reeking of a desire to be cheerful in the face of adversity; just about everything this movie has to say about black life and adversity seems strictly secondhand. 112 min.

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