"Like being beaten to death with a piece of nerf."
I'd been told this film was full of exactly what I like in film. A bit of wisdom, good characters, great performances, a bit of poignance (love me some poignance) and some humour. Recipe for success? Bollocks. It was a slow, ineffectual movie that thought it was being a whole lot more life-altering than it ever could be.Harvey Keitel is really hit or miss. When he's on, he's on fire, but it generally depends not so much on his performance, but rather how the role fits his persona and presence. In Smoke, he's so "miss" that he could play the Golden State Warriors.
Billy Hurt gets credit for one thing - he didn't play the kind of guy he normally plays. Bordering on "queen", his twee writer character doesn't stoop to "love me" routines like Robin Williams has a tendency to do of late. If anything, Hurt makes his character distinctly unloveable, and more believable in the process. Forest Whitaker, always reliable (if never different) is the only other cast member to survive with his career unscathed.
The rest of the cast is scattered between the following categories: - abominable, talentless, unbelievable, stereotyped, minor, sleep-inducing. Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing, Jared Harris, Giancarlo Esposito, JosÚ Z˙˝iga - take a collective bow. You all sucked.To be fair, it wasn't all their fault. The writing, which comes across fine in book form, comes across as lazy, unnatural dialogue on screen. The film could have been so much more, but it was cludged into a non-thought provoking, if non-offensive form. Leave it.