Ruth's been brainwashed by a guru in Delhi, India. Her parents in Sydney hire a specialist in reversing this. Ruth is tricked to return to Australia and is isolated in an outback cabin with the specialist. It gets messy.


Jane Campion
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Kate Winslet ... Ruth
Harvey Keitel ... PJ Waters
Julie Hamilton ... Mum
Sophie Lee Sophie Lee ... Yvonne
Dan Wyllie ... Robbie
Paul Goddard ... Tim
Tim Robertson ... Dad
George Rafael ... Yani (as George Mangos)
Kerry Walker ... Puss
Les Dayman ... Bill-Bill (as Leslie Dayman)
Samantha Murray Samantha Murray ... Prue
Sandy Gutman ... Stan (as Austen Tayshus)
Simon Anderson ... Fabio
Pam Grier ... Carol
Eva Martin Eva Martin ... Devotee


While on a journey of discovery in exotic India, beautiful young Ruth Barron falls under the influence of a charismatic religious guru. Her desperate parents then hire P.J. Waters, a macho cult de-programmer who confronts Ruth in a remote desert hideaway. But P.J. quickly learns that he's met his match in the sexy, intelligent, and iron-willed Ruth.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He had only one thing on his mind... but so did she! See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The film could have ended with Ruth (Kate Winslet) being pregnant with P.J.'s (Harvey Keitel's) baby. See more »


As the pickup truck with Ruth and PJ pulls away near the end of the film, the camera rig and crane are reflected in the truck's rear window. See more »


PJ: I don't hate women. I love ladies.
Ruth Barron: Ha! Ladies! You wouldn't know any. I bet you date little Barbie dolls, don't you? "Oh, you're so brainy, you're so big! Can I suck your dick?" Can I be alone now?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The sex scene between Keitel and Winslet has been trimmed in the U.S version. On the Australian VHS, Keitel is seen putting himself between Winslet's legs and reaching down to his crotch before thrusting. As they are making love, Winslet says "Don't come, don't come", then there is the sound of Keitel doing so. He stops, and Winslet moans for a bit before the film cuts to the next scene. In the U.S version, they trim Keitel getting inbetween her legs and reaching for his crotch. The scene plays out as normal just until Keitel "comes" and the sound of Winslet moaning is also trimmed. The U.S version also misses some of the thrusting and related sounds. See more »


Referenced in Eisai to tairi mou!: Episode #1.2 (2001) See more »


Puchho Jara Puchho
Music by Nadeem Saifi (as Nadeem) and Shravan Rathod (as Shravan)
Lyrics by Sameer
Performed by Kumar Sanu & Alka Yagnik
Courtesy of Tips Cassettes & Records Co.
See more »

User Reviews

Psycho-sexual intrigue, cosmic joke
11 July 2003 | by jonest80See all my reviews

Most of Jane Campion's films make me uncomfortable. This one was no exception. But I liked it. And it has grown on me.

Having investigated eastern philosophy and western mysticism for years, I appreciate Jane Campion's competency in dealing with themes of a metaphysical nature. I was stunned by her use of metaphor in "The Piano," a constant returning to the place of origination, the synergy of yin and yang, the veil of illusion, and the mystery of expression ("the word").

Holy Smoke is more direct in its approach, but effective in exploring themes of power and love as both intimate and universal life forces. As usual, Campion approaches her subjects with an unflinching, but sympathetic, eye.

I am always nearly a fan of Campion's production values: I love the saturated, dark colors, the carefully contrived shots, the whimsical and sparing use of special effects and humor, and typically incredible casting.

While appealing on an aesthetic level, what appeals to me most about "Holy Smoke" is that it deals with some of my favorite themes: the illusory nature of "reality," the vulnerability, and power, of the human mind, and heart, and the sometimes shocking, sometimes humorous ways that we learn from the wisdom of the universe.

In "Holy Smoke," when I saw PJ Waters get off the plane to the sound of Neil Diamond singing "I am I said... I am I cried," I took notice, and became expectant of a punch line somewhere down the road.

This film could be called flawed, and is definitely not for everyone, but I come away from it feeling empowered, humbled, and amused--and appreciative of the sensitive, creative, adventurous spirits who made it.

PJ Waters is retained as an expert to de-program Ruth, but the Universe has other plans in mind... I love it.

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USA | Australia


English | Hindi

Release Date:

18 February 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Holy Smoke! See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$33,307, 5 December 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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