Smoke is yet another film that deals with the intertwining lives of otherwise complete strangers, all linked with a single common denominator; in this case, they’re all (or most) patrons of a tobacco shop in New York owned by Harvey Keitel’s character, and everyone who isn’t is affiliated somehow with someone that is. Other than that, though, this is just another film of its type; not to say that it’s bad, but once again, there’s nothing to separate this particular example from the rest of the crowd. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t give it a chance, though; there’s a few reasons that this could be worth your time.
The film takes a handful of different stories involving a handful of different characters, and meshes them together to see how they interact when they meet each other. The stories all come together eventually, becoming a single tale, and really, that’s what I could tell was the very story; how perfect strangers can meet and have their lives and futures become entangled. Naturally, since the linking characteristic is the smoke shop the characters frequent, there’s an awful lot of smoking in the film, which I’ve never been bothered by, but it was mighty prevalent here, so if that does bother you, know what this one’ll give you. The treat this film has to give is the vignette-like series of sequences that seem like one-off episodes in a season of a television dramedy, interspliced between the season-long narrative. There was a sequence near the beginning of the film that I particularly liked, that of Keitel’s character Auggie showing William Hurt’s character Paul a photo album of snapshots, all taken of the exact same street corner, every day for several years. It was poignant, and like most really well told stories, it comes back into play later on in the film in a positive way.
This is a very endearing story, with many highlights and moments that will imprint positively on your memory of the film; Harvey Keitel has a Christmas story he tells Hurt’s character near the end of the film, which has the camera slowly move in on Keitel as he’s telling it until all we see is his mouth. It has almost no bearing on the main storyline of the film, but it’s such a unique and touching moment that the film would feel woefully incomplete without it. Really, that’s all this film is, is a series of just those moments. If that sort of thing sounds appealing to you, definitely seek this one out and give it a try. It’s definitely not a waste of time; at least, it wasn’t for me, but I’m pretty confident that just about anybody can find something to like about this one, unless you completely detest a film that doesn’t have a beginning-middle-end story to it. Hopefully, you’re the type of person to appreciate a film like this, and if so, I recommend this one in good taste.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10