Film Scouts Reviews

"Smoke Signals"

by Robin J. Schwartz

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July 19, 1998

You could call this a Native American coming-of-age road movie, but that makes it sound both too big and too small. True, the set-up is decidedly ethnic - Victor, a proud, silent, young Indian and his goofy, storytelling friend Thomas drive cross-country to recover the ashes of Victor's father, who left his family when Victor was a child. Life lessons ensue, giving a glimpse into the Indian culture, sometimes jokingly, sometimes inscrutably (a pair of Indian women who insist on driving their car backwards??). But there is a universal resonance to Victor and Thomas' trek as well. "Smoke Signals" clearly has an agenda, which the director admits (the first full-length feature *by* Native Americans *about* Native Americans); fortunately that agenda doesn't get in the way of the film's being enjoyable.

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