196 user 96 critic

Holy Smoke (1999)

1:42 | Trailer
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?


Ruth (Kate Winslet) lives in Sans Souci, Sydney, Australia. "Sans Souci" is French for "carefree". See more »


When PJ is driving in the red outfit, he is on the left-hand "driver" side. When the lady gets in the car, he then has switched to the right-hand side (still driving). The lady is then in the left driver side where PJ was originally. See more »


PJ Waters: You know, you'd be better off crying.
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 Jersey Girl (2004) See more »


Trust in Me
(Groove Terminator Mix)
Written by Rani Kamahl and Paul Gray
Courtesy of Sony/ATV Music Publishing (Australia)
Performed by Rani
(P) Virgin Records Australia
Licensed courtesy of EMI Music Australia
See more »

User Reviews

Flawed, but entertaining, beautiful and watchable all the same.
24 December 2000 | by flickjunkie-3See all my reviews

Holy Smoke was not a film I cared for, really. So, when I saw it, I was a bit unsure about what I was going to see. Fortunately, Holy Smoke is an experience I really enjoyed, and I would easily watch it again.

Kate Winslet plays Ruth Baron, the wilful daughter who swaps life in the suburbs for nirvana in India. Fearing that she has been cult-napped into marrying a wrinkly guru, her family hires P.J. Waters (Harvey Keitel), a US hotshot who specialises in the ‘de-programming' of brainwashed hippies, to bring her back.

The performances are brilliantly enjoyable, Kate Winslet is great as Ruth, you can see she is trying a selection of different characters, while Harvey Keitel is at his best as P.J. Waters. Pam Grier is unfortunately underused in Holy Smoke, but the scenes she has are very enjoyable to watch. Anna Campion and Jane Campion's script is very well thought-out and extremely interesting, while Jane puts in lots of effort in directing, although sometimes she overdoes with different camera angles, making some of the shots very hard to watch and slightly confusing. But, apart from that, Holy Smoke is a genuinely beautiful movie to watch, the art-direction is another stand-out.

Although it doesn't quite match up to Campion's other films, The Piano and A Portrait Of A Lady, Holy Smoke is still a nakedly honest and watchable film that I recommend.

I rate Holy Smoke 7 out of 10.

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Official Sites:

Miramax | Official Facebook


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

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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