Sunday, January 22, 2006

Smoke Signals

As a rule I am opposed to voice overs in film. I think that voice overs are a cheat in a visual medium. That's the principle. Unfortunately, half of my favorite movies have voice overs in them.

Smoke Signals commits an even greater sin. The epilogue is a long voice over. What's amazing to me about this voice over is that the whole movie has utterly justified this last set of questions.

There are moments in the opening of the film, where the film works (maybe too hard?) to establish its Indianness, and the relational change of heart that Victor has toward Thomas happens, possibly too quickly at the end. But to quibble with these faults, when there are so many dimensions of good magical storytelling at play in this movie is to build a pillar of ash out of this (more than two sentence review) when what the review SHOULD be -- is a pillar of flame. Like the film.

This movie accomplishes everything BIG FISH tried to do, only this movie does it effortlessly. In its final moments? Big Fish disappoints. The questions at the end of Smoke Signals are anything but a disappointment.

(if you've seen the movie, scroll down to the questions below -- if you haven't...wait until the end of the movie. Then you'll be ready for them.)


How do we forgive our fathers? Do we forgive our fathers for leavin us too often? Or maybe forever when were little? Or do we forgive them for scarin' us with unexpected rage or makin us nervous because there never seemed to be any rage there at all? Or do we forgive our fathers for marryin or not marryin our mothers? Or for divorcin or not divorcin our mothers? And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness? Shall we forgive them for pushin? or leanin? For pushing through doors or pushing through walls? For speaking? Or never speaking? Or never being silent?