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SMOKE SIGNALS This movie has all the necessary ingredients of a classic road movie the long trip that turns into as much of a philosophical journey as a physical one the oddball characters encountered along the way and the everything-will-be-alright ending But the foundation of Smoke Signals is the central figures of Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-the-Fire two natives of the Coeur dAlene Reservation in Idaho I would not say that Victor and Thomas are exactly friends but they have known each other since childhood and they share a link At a drunken Fourth of July celebration in 1976 Arnold Joseph Victors father accidentally set fire to a house killing everyone trapped inside However Arnold did manage to save his son and the infant Thomas from the blaze The movie is narrated by Thomas who has become a devout believer in spirits He waits patiently for visions and enjoys stories of both fact and fiction Yet he is also a bit of a nerd who spends too much time watching Indians on television and Dances With Wolves Nonetheless Thomas who was raised by his grandmother continues to worship Arnold even though Arnold left the reservation for a life in Phoenix when Thomas and Victor were only 12 years old But Victor fumes with hostility toward his father for abandoning him and his mother Arlene The boyhood scenes of Victor and Arnold show a man who loves his son dearly but who is also clearly possessed by his own demons One minute Arnold is happily telling stories to his son drinking his beer as they drive home the next hes slapping Victors head for knocking over the bottle Victor responds by alternately showing love and rage for his confused and violent father Now in his twenties Victor is a quiet young man still as a rock After Arlene receives a call from Phoenix informing her that
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