A death in Oklahoma sets in motion events leading to something great: so says a Muscogee-speaking narrator when Cufe Smallhill, a registered Seminole who’s part Creek, discovers his father’s body one morning. Per dad’s wishes, Cufe sinks the body in a pond. After a closed-casket funeral – Cufe’s cousin loads a donated coffin with weights and a watermelon – Cufe goes to Tulsa to spend time with his sister, Miri. He meets Miri’s neighbor, Francie. They talk and listen, and things seem to open up for Cufe. Miri has her problems, though, including an estrangement from her mother, Cora. Miri drinks too much, sleeps around, and steals from her boss. How can anything great come of this?
User Reviews: The Oklahoma-shot opener of this year’s ImagineNative film festival is watchable, balanced in tone, and mostly looks damn good for HD. The humour works, the dialogue doesn’t clunk, and the actors have some really solid moments. And though for a while I thought this was going be one of those mute-protagonist-watches-the-wacky-world-unfold jobbers which I so despise, in fact Cody Lightning’s performance eventually lets us into his head. But the problems start early: key dialogue scenes play like talk shows, cutting between closeups on the line in a mechanical and distracting way. And the movie avoids melodramatic cliché not by subverting the paradigm, but by glossing over the big crying scenes via nervous montage. Why not trade in some of the staring off into space (speaking of cliché!) for some more of the detailed interaction that works so well when they’ve got it going? I don’t think you can blame this superficiality on the budget; I think it’s a lack of confidence on the part of the director, which would also explain the wall-to-wall music that eventually comes close to suffocating the movie entirely.