Smoke Signals

on June 26, 1998 by Jose Martinez
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   Based on Sherman Alexie's 1993 collection of short stories "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven," this story follows Victor Joseph (Adam Beach)'s journey to Phoenix to retrieve the ashes of his deceased father who abandoned his family 10 years ago. The only way Victor can manage the trip is to let Thomas Builds-the-Fire (Evan Adams) tag along. Thomas has a knack for storytelling and for constantly annoying Victor; along the way, they argue, get into trouble and eventually learn to respect and like one another.
   This is a movie of moments. Throughout there are very good, intense dramatic scenes, but as a whole the film falls short and is unsatisfying. Being the first feature written, directed and co-produced by Native Americans is cause enough for pride, but by failing to fan the flames of audience interest, "Smoke Signals" will likely suffer reduced visibility.    Starring Adam Beach, Evan Adams, Tantoo Cardinal and Tom Skerritt. Directed by Chris Eyre. Written by Sherman Alexie. Produced by Scott Rosenfelt and Larry Estes. A Miramax release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for some intense images. Running time: 89 min.
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