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Holy Smoke! (1999)

1 rating: 5.0
Art House & International and Drama movie

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, … see full wiki

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1 review about Holy Smoke! (1999)

A Journey of Discovery

  • Jul 11, 2010
"Holy Smoke"

A Journey of Discovery

Amos Lassen

Ruth Barron (Kate Winslet), while on a journey of discovery in India, falls under the spell of a religious guru and her parents were so worried that they hired PJ Waters (Harvey Keitel), a cult de-programmer who finds her in a desert hideaway. Ruth is now known as Naznee refuses to be de-programmed but eventually recants and goes home to her mother to Australia where she decorates her room with pictures of Bhagwan Shri Shiv and others and discovers that she has been brought home to be brainwashed.
Director Jane Campion puts the de-programmer to the test and we get quite a struggle. We look at the question of how much a guru can hold his followers and is that hold sacred or profane? Is he desired as an alpha male or is it because of spirituality? What is his motivation and does he believe that he is actually helping free his clients from mental slavery?
We look basically at two questions: If he is successful, will that just mean that she has transferred her allegiance from the Indian guru to him? Will it mean that his psychological strength is greater than that of the guru in far-off India? Two, in what respect is such a forced confinement with someone who is in physical control going to lead to a variant of the "Stockholm syndrome" experienced by some women held hostage, e.g., flight attendants on hijacked planes, and the famous case of Patty Hearst? Will the captive become enamored of her captor? Campion handles this most interesting theme by focusing on the sexual and carnal nature of the relationships. The test of will between P.J. and Ruth becomes a question of if she seduces him and t strips him of his professionalism, what happens next? This is a candid film about sex and sexuality in a way that emphasizes the power dynamics of sexual relationships. There is some full frontal nudity and the sex scenes are steamy beyond what one usually sees in an R-rated film. Harvey Keitel is excellent in a very demanding role and is entirely convincing this is Kate Winslet's film. She completely takes it over with her beauty, her superior acting skills, her great concentration and her mesmerizing charisma. Campion shows the raw side of humanity though discreet moments of parody that portray with which we live. This is a hugely funny portrait of a hypocritical conservative family's farcical efforts to cling to normality.

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