Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. 100
    Beach and Adams give remarkable performances that grow in feeling and intensity.
  2. Beautiful in both its brevity and its vision of contemporary Indian culture, the film abounds in easygoing humor.
  3. 90
    The deeper strength of Smoke Signals rests on the sensitivity and truthfulness of Farmer’s performance as the ebullient, self-hating alcoholic father, and that of Irene Bedard as the young woman he knew in later life.
  4. Reviewed by: Joshua Klein
    What's truly remarkable about Smoke Signals is the depth of the narrative, a touching tale of self-discovery.
  5. And that's the surprise of the movie, beyond even the humor and humanity of its inside look at contemporary American Indian culture. It's really the oldest and most primal story forms, the one about the old man and the boy.
  6. The film excels in small scenes of cannily chosen Indian everydayness.
  7. Its particularities are the best thing about it.
  8. 78
    The cast is uniformly excellent in their roles, and Eyre's persistent use of long, trailing shots reinforces the story's elegiac tone.
  9. 75
    Takes advantage of the road movie genre, which requires only a goal and then permits great freedom in the events along the way.
  10. 75
    Offers the prospect of seeing beyond the stereotypes that plague Native Americans in even the best films.
  11. Shows colorful style and a wisdom beyond precocity about its setting and its people.
  12. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    A shrewd portrait, sly, casual yet palpably authentic, of the principal ways members of any minority try to respond to an uncomprehending world. [29 Jun 1998, p. 69]
  13. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Breezy, often self-mocking tone proves fresh and invigorating.
  14. Reviewed by: Scott Kelton Jones
    The film is bound together around the oral tradition and the act of storytelling, and this is where the filmmakers shine.
  15. A well-crafted story with a unique voice. But its literary gifts are outweighed by its pictorial prosaicness. Dimming the screen in every shot is the unmistakable shadow of the page.
  16. The movie makes up in sincerity and goodwill what it lacks in originality and style.
  17. Reviewed by: Sandra Contreras
    Alexie, who adapted his own novel, bears responsibility for the movie's ham-fisted treatment of racial-identity issues, its tiresome jokes and the dated, throbbing-guitar soundtrack.

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