Watch Holy Smoke!
- 1 hr 55 min
Holy Smoke! is a thought-provoking drama film from 1999 that follows the journey of Ruth, a young woman from Sydney, who gets involved in a strange cult while backpacking through India. The movie explores the themes of faith, identity, and sexuality and features an impressive cast of actors, including Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel, and Julie Hamilton.
The film opens with a serene view of the Indian landscape as Ruth, played by Winslet, immerses herself in the local culture, trying to find spiritual guidance. However, her quest takes a dark turn when she falls under the influence of the cult leader, Baba, played by Amrish Puri, who claims to have divine powers.
Ruth's family, worried about her wellbeing, hires a professional "deprogrammer," P.J. Waters, played by Harvey Keitel, to bring her back home. The deprogramming process involves challenging Ruth's beliefs and trying to make her see the truth about the cult she is involved with.
The contrast between Ruth's serene surroundings in India and the claustrophobic space of the deprogramming house is palpable, and the tension between her and P.J. only adds to the sense of unease. Ruth is determined to stay loyal to Baba, and P.J. is equally resolved to release her from his manipulative grasp.
As the sessions progress, the movie delves deeper into the complexities of Ruth's character. She is torn between her desire for a spiritual connection and her worldly desires, particularly regarding her sexuality. P.J. tries to convince her that her sexual encounter with Baba was a form of manipulation and abuse, but Ruth's responses reveal her deep-seated confusion about her own desires.
Winslet's magnetic performance as Ruth is compelling, and she captures the character's complexity with ease. She portrays Ruth as both vulnerable and strong-willed, torn between the expectations of her family and the search for her own identity.
Keitel's portrayal of the deprogrammer is equally impressive. As the sessions intensify, P.J. becomes more and more affected by Ruth's personality, exposing his own vulnerabilities and flaws. The relationship between the two characters becomes increasingly intimate and complicated, leading to unexpected twists in the plot.
Julie Hamilton delivers a convincing performance as Ruth's overbearing mother, desperate to rescue her daughter from the clutches of the cult. The relationship between Ruth and her mother is strained, and their interactions are fraught with tension and conflict.
The cinematography is exceptional, with stunning visuals of the Indian countryside juxtaposed with the austere interior of the deprogramming house. The use of color and light creates a stark contrast between Ruth's spiritual journey and the harsh reality of her predicament.
The movie's exploration of themes such as faith, identity, and sexuality is nuanced and thoughtful. It raises important questions about the nature of spirituality and the dangers of blind obedience. Holy Smoke! is a captivating drama that will keep you engaged from start to finish.
Holy Smoke! is a 1999 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 55 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.9 and a MetaScore of 57.