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Kate Winslet (TITANIC, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY) and Harvey Keitel (U-571, PULP FICTION) add scintillating performances to a seductive, darkly hilarious motion picture that's met with overwhelming critical acclaim! While on a journey of discovery in exotic India, beautiful young Ruth Barroin (Winslet) falls under the influence of a charismatic religious guru. Her desperate parents then hire PJ Waters (Keitel), a macho cult deprogrammer, who confronts Ruth in a remote desert hideaway. But PJ quickly learns that he's met his match in the sexy, intelligent, and iron-willed Ruth! Another memorable motion picture directed by Academy Award(R)-winner Jane Campion -- you'll feel an undeniable comic charge from the sparks that fly as PJ and Ruth face off in an electric battle of the sexes.
Aussie director Jane Campion's one of a kind. Forget money and fame; she's inspired by the pleasure of sharing her cinematic dreams with friends and film audiences. Her globetrotting heroines (Angel at My Table, The Piano, Portrait of a Lady) may be willful, crazed, self-absorbed, wrong--but who can resist joining these passionate women on their voyages of self-discovery, whether they lead to safe harbor or dead end?
Holy Smoke opens deliriously in a magical India, saturated with light, color, sensuality. Celebrated by Neil Diamond's anthem, "Holly Holy," Ruth Baron (Kate Winslet, delivering a breathtakingly luminous performance) explores a world that encourages spiritual epiphany--and falls hard for the cartoonish guru who opens her "third eye." Back home in Australia, her hilariously dysfunctional, distinctly down-to-earth family hires hotshot deprogrammer PJ Waters (Harvey Keitel, his dyed hair and cowboy boots telegraphing desperate machismo) to cure Ruth. In an isolated Outback shack, Campion's duo wrestle each other for control of their souls--and bodies, too. This duel's in deadly earnest: Ruth assaults Waters's petrified masculinity; PJ aims to strip this radiant girl of her unexamined faith.
Their wild ride--funny, brutal, erotic--toward brand-new selfhood is punctuated by indelible images: Ruth dancing in a white sari beside an emu corral; naked in the night, Ruth offering her lush body to her tormentor; lost in the desert, cross-dressed in red gown, PJ "saved" by a golden vision of Ruth as a magnificent Indian goddess. For those who love the way movies can sometimes project truth and beauty, Holy Smoke is a feast for the eyes--and for the mind. --Kathleen Murphy
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This film had so many finely wrought moments that I occasionally exclaimed out loud, "Brilliant!" One such moment is when Harvey Keitel's character, PJ Waters, the cult exiter, swaggers into the film via the Sydney airport with his tight jeans, black shirt, cowboy boots, and sunglasses. We see a gaggle of people surrounding the luggage carts as they make futile attempts to dislodge them from one another. The crowd separates as the gum-chewing PJ approaches and effortlessly extracts the carts, artfully twirling them toward grateful and awed travellers. We understand instantly that this is a man to be reckoned with.
Yes, I cried watching this film. But not only for the pity I felt for Ruth and P.J., but for the film's general excellence. Acting like this made me wonder at the whole of film making, made me feel proud at human accomplishments. Winslet gives us a Ruth that is rich, multi-layered, powerful and vulnerable at the same time. Keitel is a courageous actor: you'll know what I mean when you see the red dress. These are first-rate performances, and I feel grateful to have witnessed them.