Young Native American man Thomas is a nerd in his reservation, wearing oversize glasses and telling everyone stories no-one wants to hear. His parents died in a fire in 1976, and Thomas was saved by Arnold. Arnold soon left his family (and his tough son Victor), and Victor hasn't seen his father for 10 years. When Victor hears Arnold has died, Thomas offers him funding for the trip to get Arnold's remains, but only if Thomas can also go with him. Thomas and Victor hit the road.
In a flashback Victor's father asks him who his favorite Indian is and Victor replies "Nobody." Gary Farmer who plays Victor's father stared as an Indian named Nobody in the movie Dead Man (1995). See more »
The old pickup truck that leaves the Joseph house on the reservation has 10-lug rims, and when it is returned by Victor and Thomas, it has 5-lug rims on all 4 wheels. Obviously it's a different truck. See more »
Despite Leonard Maltin's comment that Smoke Signals is "basically unexciting film-making," I found this movie deeply spiritual without being heavy-handed. The aspect of the film that captured my interest and has stayed with me is the story-telling of Thomas. The stories mingle simple, real-life recollections with fantasy, and the voice of Thomas subtly gives the movie a transcendent quality. Thomas is a modern-day medicine man, grounded in reality yet open to possibilities. He marvels at the beauty of the creation that surrounds him and dreams of what new wonders the future might bring. He is hope.
I intend to view this film many more times. It deals with tragedy without being tragic. It recognizes the sometimes brutal facts of reality without allowing brutality to define. It reveals sadness but not as an end in and of itself. It asks questions but leaves the answers to the viewer. And it affirms that there are answers and hope.
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