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Holy Smoke (1999)

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Ruth's been brainwashed by a guru in Delhi, India. Her parents in Sydney hire a specialist in reversing this. Ruth is tricked to return to Australia and is isolated in an outback cabin with the specialist. It gets messy.

Director:

Jane Campion
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kate Winslet ... Ruth
Harvey Keitel ... PJ Waters
Julie Hamilton ... Mum
Sophie Lee Sophie Lee ... Yvonne
Dan Wyllie ... Robbie
Paul Goddard ... Tim
Tim Robertson Tim Robertson ... Dad
George Rafael ... Yani (as George Mangos)
Kerry Walker Kerry Walker ... Puss
Les Dayman Les Dayman ... Bill-Bill (as Leslie Dayman)
Samantha Murray Samantha Murray ... Prue
Sandy Gutman ... Stan (as Austen Tayshus)
Simon Anderson Simon Anderson ... Fabio
Pam Grier ... Carol
Eva Martin Eva Martin ... Devotee
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Storyline

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 cult de-programmer who confronts Ruth in a remote desert hideaway. But P.J. quickly learns that he's met his match in the sexy, intelligent, and iron-willed Ruth.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He had only one thing on his mind... but so did she! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Miramax | Official Facebook

Country:

USA | Australia

Language:

English | Hindi

Release Date:

18 February 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Holy Smoke! See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$33,307, 5 December 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,758,780, 9 April 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After filming in Hawker in the Flinders Ranges of outback South Australia, came the Sydney component of the shoot in New South Wales, Australia. This part of filming was concentrated mainly in the studio, often on a closed set, where director Jane Campion filmed the interiors of the Half-Way Hut, which was disassembled and transported from the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, and rebuilt in the studio. See more »

Goofs

As the pickup truck with Ruth and PJ pulls away near the end of the film, the camera rig and crane are reflected in the truck's rear window. See more »

Quotes

PJ Waters: I was young once, too, and handsome. You'd have been impressed.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The sex scene between Keitel and Winslet has been trimmed in the U.S version. On the Australian VHS, Keitel is seen putting himself between Winslet's legs and reaching down to his crotch before thrusting. As they are making love, Winslet says "Don't come, don't come", then there is the sound of Keitel doing so. He stops, and Winslet moans for a bit before the film cuts to the next scene. In the U.S version, they trim Keitel getting inbetween her legs and reaching for his crotch. The scene plays out as normal just until Keitel "comes" and the sound of Winslet moaning is also trimmed. The U.S version also misses some of the thrusting and related sounds. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jersey Girl (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Primitive
Written by Annie Lennox
© La Lennoxa Limited/BMG Music Publishing Ltd
Administered locally by BMG Music Pty Ltd
Performed by Annie Lennox
Under licence from BMG Australia Limited
See more »

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User Reviews

Smoked Poison
30 December 2008 | by ChrysanthepopSee all my reviews

Jane Campion takes us to dark territory again in 'Holy Smoke' but this time with a touch of comedy. I am surprised at the negative response so many have claiming that it is anti-feminist blah blah blah or that it is a comedy with no substance. On the contrary, I find 'Holy Smoke' to be a provocative piece full of substance.

The refreshing novel concept is pretty daring and Campion balances both dark humour and intensity. She tackles various relevant themes such as respect and care within the family (the mother is the only one who seems to be concerned about what happened to her daughter in India while the father is totally indifferent), sexual manipulation, spirituality vs brainwash, power control and so on. The viewer is totally absorbed on how the de-programmer 'saves' Ruth but things take unexpected turns and we start questioning who exactly this PJ Waters is. The relationship between PJ and Ruth gradually becomes reminiscent of that between Lolita and Humbert (from Kubrick's 'Lolita'). The dysfunctional family is portrayed in a funny light but the characters's (especially the women's) despair and struggle is evident such as Mom being concerned about her daughter and Yvonne who is unhappy with her sex life. Campion, with the help of the actors, creates this whole mysterious atmosphere through the characters. We are given some nice glimpses of the isolated dry Australian landscape.

The performances are terrific. Kate Winslet, even though occasionally switches back to her own British accent, acts phenomenally. She already made a brave choice by choosing such a risky role and the actress just shows how comfortable she is in the skin of her character and mesmerizes the viewer. Harvey Keitel does nothing short of a fine job but he is obviously overshadowed by Winslet. The supporting cast, especially Sophie Lee (as Ruth's desperate and sleazy sister-in-law) and Julie Hamilton (as the concerned and loving mother).

'Holy Smoke' is a well-made and brave film. Clearly it is not for everyone. There are very few movies that are both funny and thought-provoking. 'Holy Smoke' is one such captivating film.


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