At first glance, a movie where a couple of guys talk about politics, identity and oppression doesn’t sound like “good times!” But hold on or you might miss out on the laughs and wit! “Two Indians Talking” is just that (but also more).
This story gives us two young Native men on their way to a meeting where they expect to have a bunch of Cree folks join them, a dozen or maybe dozens. The greatness is in the extraordinary irony: their partners don’t show, so we don’t watch a cadre of zealous activists prepare an ambitious protest – a stand. They need help to block a major road and make a point. Instead we’re flies on the wall as the guys chew their cud and clash on their divergent ideas of Indianness.
This amusing Canadian drama, from director Sara McIntyre, is one among the dizzying array of titles at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival, which runs through May 3rd.
This buddy story is splendidly written with subtle humor that helps us to enjoy a show that could have been a drawn-out chat fest. Another remarkable detail is that, while we hear plenty of First Nation names mentioned, we don’t know which one these men claim.
We know we’re in for something special, or at least well-informed and thoughtful from the start: the college-educated one reminds his cousin, “people don’t rebel because they’re looking for a fight. They rebel because their tired of suffering!” The waiting, the discussions, the anxiety about their absent partners brings a sense of Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot” to this – either absurdity or tension.
As good as this picture is, and these two men are, they have partners in this. A few pretty women come into the picture, as well as a funny man of few words.
One slight irritation is that, while the two men are realistic, they are also stock: one, Adam (Justin Rain), is 20 something, has been to college and self-confidently refers to Friedrich Nietzsche, Edmund Burke, and other historical voices. He’s clean cut with a wheat complexion. His counterpart and cousin, Nathan, (Nathanial Arcand) is older, husky, darker and quicker with his anger and indignation over the centuries of whites’ feet on Natives’ necks. Their conversation shows all of these, even if it’s only implied.
When the chat fest “Before Sunrise” came out 15 years-ago, on “At the Movies” Roger Ebert conceded that these kind of movies can be their own obstacles: they’re rarely done well, so that someone will want to pay attention. “Two Indians” is another of those exceptions, even though some viewers’ patience while sympathetic, will be tested.
These “Two Indians” reward our patience with a great, witty climax that can’t help but jerk a hearty chuckle or cackle out of us: the last thing we’ve come to expect happens. It glows with irony.