Holy Smoke is the entrancing story of two zealots on a collision course with fate. Ruth, played by Winslet, is a young Australian who finds what she believes to be the path to enlightenment through the influence of a Guru while on holiday in India. When Mum (Julie Hamilton) gets word, she cooks up a plot to lure Ruth home and hires top cult deprogrammer PJ Waters (Harvey Keitel) to bring her daughter to reason.
Once trapped by her family, Ruth agrees to spend three days with Waters, beginning a game of cat-and-mouse that blurs all boundaries between therapist and patient. The balance of power turns when PJ falls under Ruth's seduction, leading them both on a descent into madness that is disturbing, enchanting, and sickly hilarious.
Winslet is positively enthralling in her role, presenting an inspired encore to her 1999 performance in Gillies MacKinnon's Hideous Kinky. Keitel is intense and commanding, tapping into the same hardcore energies we saw in Abel Ferrara's 1992 shocker, Bad Lieutenant. For what it's worth, I'm predicting Oscar nominations. [Sorry, Robert - Ed.]
Once in a while, first-rate acting meets up with powerful directorial and cinemagraphic vision to make a truly great film and this time it's the audience who got lucky. Cinematographer Dion Beebe and director Jane Campion (The Piano) deserve strong kudos for this one. Also worth mentioning is the comic and bizarre contribution of the supporting cast, including Pam Grier (Jackie Brown). Sophie Lee (Muriel's Wedding) is a complete riot as Ruth's incompetent sister. I suspect much of Grier's work on this film is cluttering the cutting room floor, and her character is just never realized. Outside of this one shortcoming, Holy Smoke is a masterpiece. See this movie.
Hot off the press!
Run time: 115 mins
In Theaters: Tuesday 22nd February 2000
Distributed by: Miramax Films
Production compaines: India Take One Productions, Miramax Films
Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 45%
Fresh: 37 Rotten: 45
IMDB: 5.9 / 10
Director: Jane Campion
Producer: Jan Chapman
Starring: Kate Winslet as Ruth Barron, Harvey Keitel as PJ Waters, Julie Hamilton as Mum, Sophie Lee as Yvonne, Daniel Wyllie as Robbie, Paul Goddard as Tim, Tim Robertson as Dad, George Mangos as Yanni, Kerry Walker as Puss, Leslie Dayman as Bill-Bill, Samantha Murray as Prue, Sandy Gutman as Stan, Simon Anderson as Fabio, Pam Grier as Carol
Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie brings a dark and gritty tone to this larger-than-life franchise. Along with...
With a spectacular setting and two solid actors on-screen, this thriller builds enough solid suspense...
Those bright sparks at Pixar have done it again, taking a fiercely original approach to...
Slick direction and meaty performances may be enough for some viewers, but this boxing drama's...
Loose and impressionistic, this beautifully shot film traces the career of a DJ who pioneered...
Without a single moment of originality, this found-footage horror movie really deserves to be the...
An intriguing premise keeps the audience gripped for about 20 minutes before the movie runs...