After seeing this film I was utterly exhilarated. The film speaks to us about the human condition. At times hauntingly serious, at times playfully amusing, Smoke succeeds in capturing its characters in all their complexity. It is a slice-of-life portrayal of a short period in the lives of a hodgepodge of interesting characters who have met by chance in Brooklyn.
In the center of the story is Auggie (Harvey Keitel), owner of a Brooklyn smoke shop. One of Auggie's patrons is Paul Benjamin (William Hurt), a writer whose life and art become stunted after a tragic loss.
The film explores the significance of the people in one's life with whom one may have a consistent, yet undefined relationship.
Many other characters enter the lives of these two men, including a black teenager (Harold Perrineau) who changes his name and identity for everyone he meets; a man (Forest Whitaker) who is trying to run away from a painful past; and a woman (Stockard Channing) who returns to her ex-boyfriend after many years apart to announce that they have a daughter and she (Ashley Judd) is in danger. ll of the characters in the film are, in some way, storytellers - whether offering historical anecdotes with metaphorical significance, inventing oneself over and over again, or making up a story as a way to secure involvement.