Holy Smoke (1999)

R   |    |  Drama, Comedy


Holy Smoke (1999) Poster

While on a journey of discovery in exotic India, beautiful young Ruth Barron falls under the influence of a charismatic religious guru. Her desperate parents then hire P.J. Waters, a macho ... See full summary »

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5.9/10
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  • Ruth & PJ in a bar
  • Ruth hugs her family
  • Harvey Keitel stars as PJ Waters
  • Kate Winslet stars as Ruth
  • PJ & Ruth
  • Kate Winslet stars as Ruth

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6 March 2009 | Michael_Elliott
Great Performances, Strange Story
Holy Smoke (1999)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Extremely bizarre story of a young woman named Ruth (Kate Winslet) who gets involved in an Indian cult, which worries her family. The family brings in a deprogrammer (Harvey Keitel) who is a specialist at breaking young woman who have fallen under the spell of cult members. I can't say this is a totally winning film but it did keep me entertained from start to finish and just when you thought it couldn't get any stranger it certainly does in its second half. This film really isn't about cults but instead the struggles between men and women. The first film has Keitel pulling his magic on Winslet who, in the second half, gets her revenge by putting her hooks into him. Whereas the first film has some sort of religious undertone the second half is a weird sexual journey, which includes Winslet in a full nudity scene, one with her kissing a woman and we even get to see Keitel in a dress walking around a desert in one boot. I'm really not sure what the film is trying to say or if its even trying to say anything at all. Campion is best known for The Piano, which also had Keitel but that film seems normal compared to this one. I've heard people call this a feminist movie, which might be correct but again the ending would lead you to believe this isn't correct. The movie is all over the map in terms of what it's trying to say and do so I guess it's going to be up to the viewer to try and make up their own mind. I'm sure many people will find the film slow and boring but the pacing is what dragged me into the movie and got me caught up with the characters. I think fans of Keitel and Winslet will be the ones walking away entertained because both give great performances and really work well together. Both are so deep into their roles that you can't help but be fascinated by each step they make and in the end they're what saves an otherwise pointless film.

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Genres

Drama | Comedy

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