Smoke

Smoke Image
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 9 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A group of people's lives intertwine when a New York cigar store manager, Auggie (Keitel), befriends them. Among them is a writer who can't write (Hurt), a reluctant father hiding from his past (Whitaker), a streetwise teen with an unusual identity crisis, and Auggie's long-lostA group of people's lives intertwine when a New York cigar store manager, Auggie (Keitel), befriends them. Among them is a writer who can't write (Hurt), a reluctant father hiding from his past (Whitaker), a streetwise teen with an unusual identity crisis, and Auggie's long-lost ex-girlfriend (Channing), who returns with some surprising news! (Miramax) Expand

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 15
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 15
  3. Negative: 1 out of 15
  1. 100
    A sharply observant and witty film that plumbs unexpected depths of feeling.
  2. 88
    Each conversation has at least one memorable line, and it's always delivered in such a casual manner that it blends right in.
  3. Knockout ensemble performances like these don't come around all that often, though, and when they do they ought to be savored.
  4. The delight of the movie is Keitel, who finally gets to play someone who doesn't look like he's about to mug you.
  5. A showcase for Wang's greatest strengths as a film maker: a chance to explore friendships, connections and random serendipities.
  6. An inviting but evanescent film that does have casualness, curiosity value and a lot of talent on its side.
  7. Despite a certain grace in the dialogue and casual plot construction, this is positively reeking of a desire to be cheerful in the face of adversity.

See all 15 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. TimB.
    Feb 7, 2006
    8
    An overall wonderful story line, that inspires the best of a person. The story does have its dull moments, and does leave for individual An overall wonderful story line, that inspires the best of a person. The story does have its dull moments, and does leave for individual conclusions to be made in the end. Secrets and smoke hang over the characters, but end the end, the smoke seems to clear, revealing a nicely worked story line between the characters. Expand
  2. Jun 19, 2016
    8
    The artistic medium of film is very subjective. Every audience member has a different set of criteria they use to measure their viewingThe artistic medium of film is very subjective. Every audience member has a different set of criteria they use to measure their viewing experience. Not everyone shares the same set of criteria. If we did, what a bland and uninspired world this would be.

    What I Personally Liked About "Smoke":
    One thing you should know about me is that I have always had a preference for dialogue films. Productions which feature those most intimate of human dramas that rely heavily on intellectual banter to supply the bulk of their characterization. While it is certainly not everyone's cup of tea, it is one of my personal favorite sub-genres. Writer Paul Auster has crafted a finely honed blade able to cut deeply into the vein of the living cinematic entity and let its blood flow freely onto the screen. This exceptional writing is aided by a very open performance from star Harvey Keitel. Over the years leading up to this motion picture, Keitel was normally known as the tense, hard-boiled actor who breathed life (sometimes violently so) into movies such as "Mean Streets," "Reservoir Dogs," and "Bad Lieutenant." To see him here as Auggie Wren was a revelation. For some reason, before my first viewing of this film, I didn't think that he and co-star William Hurt would have a lot of chemistry. However, they work in marvelous unison, particularly during the scene when Auggie shows Hurt's character Paul Benjamin his life's work of photographs taken one each morning at the same time in the same location. It is a beautifully rendered scene showing two thespians at the height of their careers. An additional note, the last song heard in the film (the one played over the end credits) has to be my favorite version of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and is a sad reminder of the talent we lost when musician Jerry Garcia passed away two months after the film's U.S. release.

    What I Personally Disliked About "Smoke":
    While the majority of the primary characters are wonderful, there's just something about Ruby McNutt that I cannot get into. It's not Stockard Channing's fault as she does the best she can. It's just that the character seems a shade or two off when compared with the people surrounding her. Each portrayal in the film is filled with unique subtleties; however, they all seem to blend together. Ruby just doesn't connect with the material in the same fashion. It's like she's standing just outside the circle and is looking for a way in. I'm also not that wild about the location used for the smoke store interiors. It doesn't have enough personality of its own to match its inhabitants and it doesn't afford cinematographer Adam Holender much space to work with. That's a shame when you consider the airy visuals he gives to both the outdoor settings and to Benjamin's apartment.

    My Overall Impression of "Smoke":
    Its minor shortcoming set aside, this movie is a great slice of cinematic Americana. While it didn't seem to garner as much attention as some of director Wayne Wang's other films from the era ("The Joy Luck Club" anyone?), it does leave a more lasting impression. If you like intricate dramas that promote cerebral discourse over chaotic decadence, then this film is for you.
    Expand

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