Smoke (1995)

Ostensibly, this slice-of-life comedy-drama is about Harvey Keitel’s Auggie Wren and the many customers that go in and out of his Brooklyn smoke shop, with a side story of William Hurt as a grieving widower with writer’s block striking a friendship with a homeless young man. If that sounds disjointed, then you’ll be happy to know that you’re right: There’s isn’t much of an organic connection between the two characters or their stories, and neither character is particularly well developed, so most of the time it’s hard to get invested in either storyline. Luckily there’s a lot of terrific character actors dropping by here and there, including Stockard Channing and Forest Whitaker, who each do some solid work in small supporting roles, and Harold Perrineau Jr. is excellent as the aforementioned homeless youth, so it makes the B-stories a little more interesting. Overall the movie is perfectly fine, it’s just kind of unremarkable, the sort of movie that’s on for as long as it lasts, then fades from memory quickly. It’s worth watching for Keitel’s monologue at the end about spending a lonely Christmas Day with a blind grandmother who thinks he’s her grandson, but its poignancy makes you wish the movie had more of those moments.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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