Newest Review: ... cast comprises Ruth's family and PJ Waters wife and again the acting is of a high standard. Overall Value for money:- I feel that the D... more
Holy Smoke - There is no smoke with Fire
Holy Smoke (DVD)
Member Name: Loubielou22
Holy Smoke (DVD)
Date: 02/02/10, updated on 03/02/10 (64 review reads)
Advantages: A fantastic engaging film
Film:- Holy Smoke
Release Date:- 1999
Writer & Director:- Jane Campion
Purchased from:- Amazon
I first watched Holy Smoke as a VHS Rental and being a fan of Harvey Keitel and Jane Campions work. I was intrigued regarding the Film, which features Kate Winslet fresh from her Titanic fame.
The film steadily guides the viewer through a journey between sex and religion using inner emotions and their outward manifestation via Kate Winslet's character Ruth, who is a vivacious, emotionally intelligent and restless character whose stagnant and stereotypical life in the Australian suburbs has not been able to fulfill her inner need for expression and her vivacious appetite for Drama. The fluctuations and inner workings of Ruth's Character are set against a backdrop which encompasses the bleak, stark Australian wilderness and a vibrant, colorful, mystical India.
Ruth travels to India with a friend and almost immediately succumbs to the vibrancy and spirituality of India. She visit's a Guru and experiences an awakening which propels her towards an obsessive desire to follow the teachings of the Guru and embody the teachings and following the doctrine by living in an Ashram and relinquishing all material attachments, Ruth's mother becomes aware of Ruth's dramatic lifestyle change by a visit from Ruth's travelling friend who returned to Australia bewildered and concerned by her friends dramatic change of heart. Ruth's mother is immediately concerned and returns to Australia and instantly seeks the assistance of a trained "Cult Exit specialist" PJ Waters played by Harvey Keitel who de-programmes vulnerable people who have fallen victim to cult mentality.
The strategy between Ruth's dysfunctional family and PJ Waters commences, they decide to entrap Ruth into coming home via a faked terminal illness which Ruth's Father pretends to have been diagnosed with, and Ruth's mother embarks upon a journey to India to convince Ruth to come home. Ruth generates further concern by adopting the karmic mentality of "what will be, will be" and expresses her sadness that her father is potentially passing over to the other site but confirms her beliefs that this is part of the cycle of Life and Death, Ruth's mother alarmed by Ruth's stance of Non attachment convinces Ruth to come home and say her final goodbyes.
Cue... Ruth's return to Australia and a dramatic intervention by her family which results in Ruth being isolated in a shack with PJ Waters as he tries to de-programme Ruth.
The film engages the viewer through synchronizing the visual backdrop of Australia and India to reflect the marked differences within Ruth's inner psyche. In Australia Ruth's temperament is as stark and barren as the wild outback with which Ruth finds herself growing up within, we learn about Ruth's vibrant spirit and need for guidance from her visit to India through the visual journey that Ruth embarks upon. Beautiful hued sunsets enable the viewer to feel the warmth and light that has found its way into Ruth's life in India. The scenes with Ruth and her Mother in India are set in a dilapidated ashram with poor sanitation of which Ruth is oblivious and her Mother is ever increasingly conscious of. Ruth's defiant attitude and desperate emotional need to cling onto the spiritual enlightenment that's she feels is at one with the surroundings and the viewer is guided towards this path via the stark contrast between Ruth and her mother's perceptions.
Ruth's return home leads her to PJ Waters and I feel this is where the key themes of Sex and Religion are expertly expressed and subtly entwined within the film. I am wary of giving away too much of the plot and therefore am conscious of not exposing the plot of the film and as such will only go into minor detail regarding the rest of the film.
The dialogue and visual backdrop weave seamlessly together to convey the interplay between Ruth and PJ Waters. The interplay between the two lead characters presents the viewer with the opportunity to empathize with both religious viewpoints and the subsequent physical and emotional expressions from the two characters.
I found the film completely and utterly enchanting and a very honest depiction of the emotional discovery of two people with conflicting beliefs who become lost when their dogmatic stance is torn apart. I also found that the film expertly played with the concept of right and wrong leading the viewer into a multi faceted dance of emotions and belief structures via the characters and their journey.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the film and personally found that upon reflection Jane Campion engaged the viewer and confused the viewer simultaneously and lead the viewer through a visually compelling and thorough provoking journey which wasn't afraid to challenge our perceptions of freedom and enlightenment and left the viewer with a complex set of emotional theories and juxtaposition of roles with which to ponder. The film weaves a tapestry of rich sub contexts using visual and dialogue based threads to create a dramatic portrait which engages and enlightens the viewer at every stage.
The acting by the two main characters is of a consistently high standard and I feel that in the latter stages of the film when the film is centered around the interaction between the characters is when the strength of Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel's chemistry and acting skills really come into focus. The Supporting cast comprises Ruth's family and PJ Waters wife and again the acting is of a high standard.
Overall Value for money:- I feel that the DVD is reasonably priced and good value for the money.
Summary: A vibrant film from Jane Campion.