The story centers on Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-the-Fire on the Coeur D’Alene Indian Reservation. Thomas is an eccentric tribe storyteller and Victor is an angry, brooding local basketball star.
The two young men are linked through Victor’s father, Arnold. Arnold rescued Thomas as an infant from a house fire that killed his parents. Consequently, Thomas considers him a hero. On the other hand, Victor, who endures Arnold’s alcoholism, domestic violence, and eventually abandonment, regards his father with both deep love and bitter resentment. Thomas and Victor grow up together as neighbors and acquaintances, fighting with each other and simultaneously forming a close, albeit uneasy, alliance.
When Arnold dies in Phoenix, Arizona, where he has settled after separating from Victor’s mother Arlene. Victor and Thomas embark on a cross-country journey to retrieve his ashes and belongings. The trip turns out to be a soul-searching endeavor for both men. Neither of them lose sight of their identity as “Indians”, but their perspectives differ. Victor is more stoic and pragmatic, and Thomas is more idealistic and traditional. This dichotomy continues all through the film and is the source of Victor’s irritation with Thomas, and Thomas’s fascination with Victor.
A rare film which provides a glimpse of Native American reservation life in comtemporary America.
Stars: Adam Beach