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Holy Smoke!

Holy Smoke! (2000)



Average Rating: 5.6/10
Reviews Counted: 82
Fresh: 37 | Rotten: 45

Superb performances hindered by weak script and incoherent story.


Average Rating: 5.3/10
Critic Reviews: 25
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 15

Superb performances hindered by weak script and incoherent story.



liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 7,740

My Rating

Movie Info

It's said that sex and religion are two subjects that no one can discuss without arguing; writer/director Jane Campion tackles both head-on in this satiric comedy drama. On a trip to India, Australian Ruth (Kate Winslet) has a spiritual awakening and embraces the teachings of a guru named Baba. Back home in Sydney, Ruth's mother and father (Julie Hamilton and Tim Robertson) are appalled to learn that their daughter now answers to the name Nazni and has no intention of returning. Mother visits

Dec 4, 2001

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All Critics (84) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (37) | Rotten (45) | DVD (9)

All sorts of questions go unanswered, and there's little of the density found in Campion's early work; this is mainly smoke, not fire.

April 27, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Original in every sense, this often difficult film about family, relationships, sexual politics, spiritual questing, faith and obsession further explores the director's abiding fascinations in excitingly unconventional terms.

June 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ms. Winslet is, by contrast, champagne and caviar for moviegoing grown-ups with good taste.

April 27, 2007 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's brave, adventurous, refreshingly frank -- qualities also marking the performances, particularly those of the leads.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

At once hilarious and serious, cruel and tender, and bristling with vitality, Holy Smoke is the right movie for the millennium, envisioning new possibilities in the way people view and relate to one another.

August 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Nice try, but there's not a laugh in sight.

April 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...a sexual awakening of sorts for both of its characters.

November 13, 2013 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

A profoundly generous treatise on how men and women misunderstand and torment one another.

August 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Jane Campion is busily dismantling gender myths that few people take seriously any more.

September 17, 2007 Full Review Source:

It's too bad that such an artist of such obvious ambition and power seems inclined to dismiss the greater part of humanity...

January 27, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Behind the philosophical smoke burns a genuine comedic fire.

December 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Filmmaker Jane Campion has displayed genius, passion, insight, and self-indulgence in her work. Now, she reveals a sense of humor.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

[A] blithering mess of a story.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

A funny, insightful film whose feminist undertones don't overwhelm the story and characters.

April 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Not to beat a metaphor to death, but since hitting a high note with The Piano, Jane Campion's career has gone off-key.

March 24, 2002 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

The film's only moments of electricity come in its first ten minutes, as its two stars are introduced to strains of Neil Diamond's "Holly Holy" and "I Am, I Said."

March 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Matinee Magazine
Matinee Magazine

A shattering and intense drama dealing with spirituality and sexual politics.

March 4, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

[Keitel and Winslet] don't have much to work with.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

A loopy contemporary comedy more reminiscent of [Jane Campion's] earlier film Sweetie.

January 9, 2002 Full Review Source: Movieline

Holy Smoke juggles elements of comedy and psycho-sexual drama in its very intense story.

December 10, 2001 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

Audience Reviews for Holy Smoke!

I don't really get comedy dramas, pick a genres and stick to it. That's not to say you can't have dramatic moments in comedy or funny scenes in dramas but this particular film fumbles between the two in such a clumsy way that neither the drama or the comedy hold any weight. I was thoroughly bored by the middle of the film and there was no great conclusion to make me feel I'd spent my time wisely.
February 12, 2013

Super Reviewer

Unsustained comedy drama with Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel in the Australian outback.
January 31, 2007
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

Holy Smoke is right! Kate Winslet definitely sets the screen on fire, literally and figuratively, in this one as Ruth Barron, a young, idealistic woman, whose parents (Julie Hamilton, Tim Robertson) become concerned when she joins a commune of like-minded seekers in India, under the sway of a charismatic guru. Tricked into returning to her native Australia, she is ambushed by her family and whisked away to a secluded hut for deprogramming by a highly successful American deprogrammer, PJ Waters (Harvey Keitel). What takes place in this desolate location is outside the bounds of any reputable therapy. This is a game (or is it) of cat and mouse and the power shifts back and forth quite precipitously and nearly devastatingly. Excellent performance by the leads, and convincing character development by the supporting cast propel this compelling tale. Surprisingly light moments of wry humor keep this from becoming too unrelentingly dark but without causing it to descend into parody. The control of the plot by Jane Campion feels sure-handed and exhibits a director firmly confident in her craft. The scenery is beautifully desolate and the cinematography is striking. Only a slight letdown at the end detracts from the overall impact.
June 18, 2010
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

    1. Ruth: [singing while drivng her car] 'Cause the love that you gave that we made/Wasn't able to make it enough for you to be open wide, no/And everytime you speak her name/Does she know how you told me you'd me/Until you died 'til you died/But you're still alive.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (2 years ago)
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