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Holy Smoke [DVD] [2000]


Price: £9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel, Julie Hamilton, Sophie Lee, Dan Wyllie
  • Directors: Jane Campion
  • Writers: Jane Campion, Anna Campion
  • Producers: Bob Weinstein, Catherine Bishop, Harvey Weinstein, Jan Chapman, Julie Goldstein
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Vci
  • DVD Release Date: 29 April 2002
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004WZW4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 54,895 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

After young middle-class Australian Ruth Barron (Kate Winslet) joins a cult in India, her well-intentioned family call upon exit counsellor P.J. Waters (Harvey Keitel) for help in getting her back. Waters is convinced that the job will take no longer than three days of intense counselling in the outback, yet he soon finds himself falling for his client, who uses her sexuality to reverse the counsellor/client relationship and claim some power for herself. Written and directed by Jane Campion ('The Piano', 'Portrait of a Lady').

From Amazon.co.uk

New Zealand film director Jane Campion is 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 (in such films as Angel at My Table, The Piano, The Portrait of a Lady) may be wilful, crazed, self-absorbed, wrong--but who can resist joining these passionate women on their voyages of self-discovery, whether they lead to safe harbour or a dead end?

Holy Smoke opens deliriously in a magical India, saturated with light, colour, sensuality. Celebrated by Neil Diamond's opening 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, the two of them 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--towards 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 mind. --Kathleen Murphy, Amazon.com

On the DVD: Holy Smoke sees good overall quality of the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, with the graininess coming from the film rather than the transfer. The soundtrack (which is mostly populated with Neil Diamond tracks) is rich, but what really raises this DVD above mediocrity though (and it had to be something seeing as it is woefully short of extras) is the commentary track. Winslet and cowriter Anna Campion (Jane's sister) are given free reign to talk about their experiences of filming Holy Smoke as well as their thoughts on India, cults and nudity. The result is always interesting, often entertaining and fans of Winslet will fall in love with the graceful star all over again. --Kristen Bowditch

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ElspethR on 28 Aug. 2013
Format: DVD
I've seen that there are reviews in both directions but I have enjoyed rewatching this film since 2000 probably annually, and it doesn't fail to make me laugh but also moved and drawn in and remains on my very fussy hard to get on favourite films list.

I think I still consider this one of the funniest films I've seen - not the capers of the ridiculous henchmen, but for the quirks of a family who use festively decorated sheep as a dumb waiter, a father more interested in the camera than of the photo of her daughter in possible danger, vulnerable yet seductive Yvonne, and the fake resident Holy Man. There's also a feeling of realism here - the upset mother who is being as manipulative as she believes her daughter is (Julie Hamilton deserves a special mention); Ruth's anger at her family's betrayal and her resistance of the exiting programme; PJ's jealousy and attraction around Ruth pitted against loyalty to his partner and to professionalism. I do struggle with the brothers/Yani at times and their car roof riding gives little to the story. The book - also penned by the Campion sisters - explains a little more of the processes and relationship (which occasionally I miss)and is more explicit - it's not kissing that Ruth gives PJ a lesson in!

I enjoy this for being a film about ideas and relationship. There are long scenes of dialogue. It looks at religion without sounding expository in the writing sense, though it is expository in the theological sense. I think Ruth's description of finding absolute love though Baba is an appealing experience to aspire to, but she needs this encounter with another older man to help her complete her transformation. She claims her pretensions and hard edges have disappeared through Baba, but her behaviour with PJ shows they have yet to be shed.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 15 Mar. 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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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By joelymim@jtarbit.freeserve.co.uk on 12 Dec. 2000
Format: DVD
Having watched this Jane Campion film, you are left with the uneasy suspicion that, whilst you have enjoyed a visual treat, the film has never quite got to where it wanted to. There are so many different themes picked up by the film that are never quite brought to a satisfactory end. Certainly, more could have been made of the whole cult aspect of the film rather than becoming, as it does, simply a battle of wits between the main protagonists.
Having said this, the film is visually stunning, most especially the fabulously rich shots of India, contrasted perfectly by the bare Australian outback. The acting is generally superb, with a particularly strong performance from Kate Winslet, finding extra-ordinary depths to her character. Harvey Keitel, on the other hand, plays his character as straight as can be, and perhaps this is the problem. His lack of depth hamstrings the film, not allowing for anything other than simple narrative, when it could have gone so much further. Also, more could have been made of the smaller roles, with perhaps some judicious pruning of the slightly more redundant characters.
Slight, but good all the same, I would recommend this film for Winslet, Keitel, and Campion fans only.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Meadows on 3 Jan. 2011
Format: DVD
I have to say that this is a film of two very different halves. It began with a huge amount of promise, but there is a point about half way through when it starts to quickly descend and by about half an hour from the end we are presented with the sight of Harvey Keitel in lipstick and a dress, a scene of utter farce.

Starting in India we are briefly introduced to Ruth, who claims to have found enlightenment through a guru. Her family, based near Sydney, don't understand and as a kneejerk reaction assume that she has been brainwashed and make it their mission to bring her home and reclaim her heart. The scenes in India are by far the best in the film. The beauty of the country is contrasted with the buffoonery of Ruth's mother who acts a clueless tourist, fumbling her way through, totally ignorant of the local culture.

It is no spoiler to say that Ruth does end up back in Australia fairly shortly where the ficus then turns to winning over her mind. Enter "cult exiter" PJ Waters (played by Harvey Keitel) to deprogramme her. Here, the filmmaker hints at what could be a brilliant film, and explores it a little bit, but for some reason stops short and completely changes the story. We begin by asking the question "what is indoctrination?" When we meet Ruth, shortly after her mystical experience in India, she is happy and well-balanced. The formulaic nature of PJ's deprogramming technique is itself a form of brainwashing, an irony that seems lost on most of the characters. Waters attempts to show that all religions are inherently evil, by demonstrating with a video compilation featuring the likes of Jim Jones and the Manson family.
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