See This: Holy Smoke

Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel in Holy Smoke
Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel in Holy Smoke



A maker of thoughtful films, some hugely successful (The Piano), some not (In the Cut), Jane Campion here takes a small film – about a cultbuster (Harvey Keitel) and his intensely focused efforts to deprogram a naive Oz girl (Winslet) who’s been got at in India – and produces a sly, dry comedy of trans-Pacific manners. Being set in Australia really helps it, those highly personal, dialogue-heavy interchanges between the two main players being balanced against huge backdrops (does it come any bigger than the Outback?). Keitel is a presence it’s hard to miss too, of course, but he’s offset by deliberately ripe caricatures by some of Oz’s finest, the meat in the sandwich being the brooding, voluptuous presence of Kate Winslet, who around this time seemed to take her clothes off in every film she was in. Can Harvey resist her? Could anybody?

© Steve Morrissey 2013


Holy Smoke – at Amazon








Leave a Comment

Holy Smoke (1999) Comedy, Drama | 115min | 18 February 2000 (USA) 5.9
Director: Jane CampionWriter: Anna Campion, Jane CampionStars: Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel, Julie HamiltonSummary: 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.


See all photos >>