Native Son

The much-celebrated Spokane/Coeur d'Alene poet and novelist Sherman Alexie (and writer-producer of Smoke Signals) brings all his ironic intelligence--the great elasticity of his mind--to bear on this striking, semi-autobiographical portrait of a successful Native American writer still struggling to reconcile opposites--his reservation childhood and his urban present, his worldly sophistication and the agonies of his old friends, the necessity of truth-telling and the cunning lies of art. Alexie's protagonist, Seymour Polatkin, is proudly gay, but he's drawn to a mixed-blood woman (Michelle St. John). He's the child of tribal magic but cannot ignore its midnight twin, tragedy. Shot on digital video, the film looks most often like a home movie. But there's nothing amateurish about its vivid tour of an outsider/writer's restless consciousness.

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