Holy Smoke - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Holy Smoke Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 31, 2007
Unsustained comedy drama with Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel in the Australian outback.
Super Reviewer
½ November 7, 2006
Odd, but good.
Super Reviewer
½ June 18, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
August 6, 2007
Although this movie lacks in coherent ideas, it managed to keep me interested the whole way through. It touches on concept after concept, but never settles on a particular intention, or, for that matter, a particular genre. Being a fan of both Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel, I was interested in seeing this to watch them act together. Their work here is not disappointing. Both actors deliver fearless, intently psychological performances that prevent this film from being a total disaster. The sexual relationship between their characters is unpleasantly explored and often quite perverse, but they are talented enough to make it work better than it probably should.
Super Reviewer
½ September 20, 2015
Starts really well only to run out of ideas and drive off the proverbial cliff.
Super Reviewer
April 8, 2008
Great, underrated comedy from Campion. Keitel is amazing as the cool cult deprogrammer who by the end is the most pathetic fool in the world. A really fun and funny film.
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2006
Okay, first off, Harvey Keitel is fearless. Seeing him in this movie just makes me respect him even more for what he'll go through for a role. But even with that said the movie was sub par; it had a great idea, and could have done a lot with it, but unfortunately it came up rather short and wasn't that inspiring or philosophical (which I thought it was going to be). The first half was fairly decent, but the second half just got weird and was slightly uncomfortable to watch. It also ended rather ubruptly and with hardly anything resolved. Winslet was great, Keitel was. . . interesting, but it's not really a movie I'd want to watch more than once or twice.
May 4, 2008
While it has an interesting premise, I feel the film suffers greatly from an identity crisis. Its offbeat for the wrong reasons and tends to shift moods without any proper reason or warning, leaving the viewer a little baffled by what this film is exactly trying to be. Winslet and Keitel do well for themselves, but it bites off more than it can really chew as it develops itself into what is ultimately a very confused drama about mental empowerment.
½ January 5, 2013
This was on IFC once and I caught some of it. Why? I'm not sure but maybe it has something to do with Katie Winslet. What I wound up saying as I wasted about 45 minutes of my life on this before turning it off was "Holy crap does this suck!"
May 8, 2008
A miserable piece of shit. Not even Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel could make it worth watching. The only reason it got one star is because Kate Winslet had a few nude scenes.
½ February 16, 2008
Very strange film about a "cult de-programmer" who finds himself in over his head with an extremely stubborn woman.
½ August 5, 2007
Unlike any other romance. Winslet pisses on herself and Keitel's character is very good. Campion cannot fail.
May 9, 2007
brilliant performances by harvey keitel and kate winslet. winslet fans might have missed this one.
December 11, 2006
Like Jude, this movie has naked Kate Winslet. Unlike Jude, this one has an entertaining storyline, great acting, and a beautiful directorial style.
December 8, 2014
I don't have to honor a contract with the devil.

Ruth Barron and her friends head to India where they fall in with a religious cult. Ruth can't believe the beauty of India while under the cult leader's influence; however, her parents aren't as impressed. They hire a man known for his ability to rescue kidnapped girls. He goes to India and brings her back to her family in Australia and finds an isolated house in the desert to try and help her recover from her spell. He'll find his task more challenging than he anticipated based on her beauty, intelligence, and sexual prowess.

"Which of these men would you trust to pack your parachute?"

Jane Champion, director of The Piano, In the Cut, Bright Star, Sweetie, The Portrait of a Lady, and episodes of Top of the Lake, delivers Holy Smoke. The storyline for this picture is a bit uneven but ended better than I anticipated. The settings were cool and the acting was very good. The cast includes Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel, Julie Hamilton, Paul Goddard, Dan Wyllie, Sandy Gutman, and Pam Grier.

"Is there a toilet or a hole here?"

I grabbed this off Netflix because I am a fan of Keitel and I thought a pairing with Winslet would be fascinating. This was pretty good. I can tell you I did find some scenes annoying and frustrating, but the overall evolution of the film is good and I adored the ending. Overall, this is worth a viewing but likely not worth adding to your DVD collection as you'll only need to see this once.

"Are you pleasing yourself? Is that what we brought you up to do?"

Grade: B
July 14, 2013
I just loved it when I saw it o a theatre, back in the day.
March 21, 2013
The worried family of an Australian girl who experiences a spiritual awakening in India as part of a strange religious cult, hires a macho exit counsellor to reprogram her belief. In Holy Smoke, a complex concept is dealt too lightly and inconsistently. The screenplay is quite poor and makes even the inspired performances seem silly.
January 20, 2013
Not bad till the second half.... then the wheels fall off the bus ! Harvey Keitel in a dress and sobbing like a girl was just too much. Could have been a great vehicle for both of these great actors, but alas...... it stunk up the joint.
July 8, 2012
I liked how the story was very different and A bit messy just like real life. All the characters are flawed and trying to muddle through. I would recommend it.
April 26, 2012
really wanted to love this film but couldn't despite being a guru suvivor myself. Winslet radiant as always, Keitel deliberately and humiliatingly silly as the sheep with snacks.
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