An elderly Cree man decides that before he dies he must travel via Greyhound from his remote Indian Reservation in Northern Canada, into the southern United States to visit the grave of Hank Williams. Along the way he and his travelling companion, a 17 yr old nephew, are picked up as a regional human-interest story in the US press. News of their growing celebrity causes a stir back home among an eclectic cast of locals; including a chief running desperately for re-election, a young girl trying desperately to find a prom date, a teacher trying desperately to help, and a social worker trying desperately to get a transfer. Written by
Real characters from a community you probably don't know
There's a joke or two about "Indian time" in this movie, but in reality, the whole movie moves in "Indian time". Conversations are at the opposite end of the spectrum from Altman's overlapping dialog. Here a character speaks and the other characters pause for a couple of seconds thinking about what's been said before making the next comment. It's all very unhurried and laconic. For example, at one point we here on the radio, "So that's your forecast . . . It's cold today . . It'll be cold tomorrow . . . It'll probably get colder after that. But this here's February, so what'd you expect?" The music is terrific, but I don't think any actual Hank Williams' songs are used. Everyone talks about playing Hank Williams, but somehow it never seems to happen on camera. All of the characters in this film are so real, that by the end you feel like you've spent a week getting to know your cousin's neighbors in a town you've never visited before. You should also be aware that the quest to visit Hank Williams' grave is not really the centerpiece of the movie. The movie mostly takes place in the Cree Nation community it starts in. The quest is mostly there to give the locals something to talk about. I was deeply moved, to the point of tears, by this movie.
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