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Holy Smoke 1999

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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!

Starring:
Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel
Runtime:
1 hour, 54 minutes

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Buy Movie SD $7.99
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Product Details

Genres Drama, Comedy
Director Jane Campion
Starring Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel
Supporting actors Julie Hamilton, Sophie Lee, Dan Wyllie, Paul Goddard, Tim Robertson, George Rafael, Kerry Walker, Les Dayman, Samantha Murray, Sandy Gutman, Simon Anderson, Pam Grier, Eva Martin, Mira Wright, Polly Wright, Lior Aizenberg, S. Samaran, Michelle Abel
Studio Lionsgate
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 15, 2006
Format: DVD
Kate Winslet plays Ruth Barron, a young Australian woman who goes to India and becomes smitten with the touch of a charismatic guru, so much so that she changes her name and forsakes her family to stay in India and attend to and worship the guru. Her parents become alarmed. Her mother goes to India to trick her into coming back to Australia so that she can be deprogrammed by a professional from the United States that they have hired (P.J. Waters as played by Harvey Keitel).

What director Jane Campion does with this once familiar theme is most interesting. She puts the deprogrammer to the test, so to speak, and initiates a struggle of will between the deprogrammer and his young charge. The key scene arrives as Ruth comes naked into P.J.'s arms in order to test his professionalism (and her sexual power). I don't know about you but I think a naked and passionate Kate Winslet would test any man's motivation and make him think twice about what he really wants to do.

The psychological idea behind the story is this question, What is the nature of the guru's hold on his flock? Is it spiritual or is it profane? Do the young women who follow him desire him as an alpha male or is it spiritual deliverance they seek? Naturally Ruth believes the latter and the deprogrammer the former. But what is the deprogammer's motivation? Is this just a job for him or does he feel he is helping to free his clients from some kind of mental slavery? Or is he just another sort of phony guru himself?

Keitel in black hair and black moustache and devil's mini goatee dressed in black with a menacing look and a lot of physical energy (despite being 60-years-old when this film was released) contrasts sharply with Winslet's youthful beauty and beguiling voluptuousness.
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2 Comments 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Jane Campion rides a slippery slope: an Australian woman (Winslet) visits India and becomes indoctrinated with a cult. Sounds like a sombre enough subject, but not in the hands of Campion.
We are served instead a slightly more doozy fare: a part satire, part romantic comedy, part drama and part...ahem...soft porn. There's a good deal of nudity here, and if you are a Harvey Keitel fan, that could be reason alone to grab a copy of this. Truth be told, Keitel is in fact almost embarrassing, especially towards the tail of the movie, which he spends mostly wearing a dress (don't ask.)
Visual splendour of other forms abounds as well. The film sports some gorgeous shots of the Australian outback and Indian pilgrimage towns. Not that any of this really does much to the bizarre "deprogramming" dialogue.
If anything saves this movie it has to be one of a couple of things:
(1) Kate Winslet, who is not only very beautiful and sensual, she also lends a great deal of comic credibility to her role.
(2) The second thing that no reviewers here seem to have noticed is THE mindblowing SOUNDTRACK!
Overall the movie is somewhat of a mess with a highly implausible denouement twist, but its probably a worthy ride for Winslet/Keitel fans.
Recommended rental.
2 Comments 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
I can safely say this is the strangest movie I've seen in a goodly long time. In a way, it's more bizarre than surreal classics like Eraserhead, because it deals with real people and the strange things they do with and to one another.
Kate Winslet plays Ruth, a callow young Australian who gets involved with a cult on a trip to India. Her talk of reincarnation and living in light baffles her parents, who are convinced she's been brainwashed (though Ruth's 'conversion' seems more of a whim than a rebirth). So they hire PJ Waters (Harvey Keitel), a 'cult exiter,' to talk her down.
Waters is all American swagger, dyed black hair, all-black wardrobe, snakeskin cowboy boots. He simmers with smooth arrogance; he expects no trouble from his troubled teen charge. He spirits her away to an isolated hut, and all heck breaks loose.
Refreshingly, this isn't a movie about faith and religion. I was none-too-eagerly anticipating long discussions about God. Instead, the conversation veers into sex and gender roles, exposing PJ's arrogance for the chauvinism it is, letting Ruth give him harsh lessons in female empowerment.
None of this makes too much sense -- the conversations are non sequitur, events unfold contrary to one's expectations. But it's fascinating and hilarious, so that's forgivable. The important thing to remember is that you're watching a *comedy*; don't make the mistake of taking the proceedings more seriously than did the filmmakers.
If nothing else, watch it for the cinematography. Campion knows how to set up a shot; the whole film is infused with Australia's glowing oranges and reds. In short, a beautifully shot, funny film, a bit nonsensical, sure to spark controversy and discussion. Definitely see it if you've got an open mind.
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Format: DVD
The subject of cult deprogramming has been dealt with in serious terms by any number of filmmakers, but director Jane Campion seems to be the first to approach it from a satirical perspective. The employment of such a mocking tone could easily open an artist to charges, on the one hand, of anti-religious bigotry and, on the other, of treating too lightly the real devastating consequences - for both the `victim' and their family - of a person's involvement in either the cult itself or the deprogramming that comes after. For the sheer audacity of her vision then, the Australian filmmaker - along with her co-writing sister, Anna - deserves a certain amount of acknowledgement and praise. Unfortunately, `Holy Smoke,' after a rather promising first half, falters badly, becoming, in the final analysis, mannered, unfocused and, above all, pointless in both its tone and message.
The first half of the film is fitfully amusing as we are introduced to Ruth (Kate Winslet) and her colorful Aussie family, the Barrons. It seems that Ruth, on a vacation to India, has fallen under the spell of a hypnotic guru and her disapproving family has devised a scheme to haul her back and submit her to the methods and wiles of PJ Waters (Harvey Keitel), the world's most successful cult deprogrammer. So far so good as Ruth's `mum' (played by the delightful Julie Hamilton) hops aboard a plane to India to find her daughter and bring her back to Australia and, consequently, her senses. Mum's fumbling attempts to comprehend this alien, exotic culture provide the heartiest laughs in the film.
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