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"HOLY SMOKE"
(1999) (Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Mild Heavy Minor Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Minor *None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Moderate Minor Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A woman enters into a battle of wills with the man hired to deprogram her from her cult following.
PLOT:
Ruth Barron (KATE WINSLET) is a young woman traveling in India who's fallen under the spell of cult guru. When her parents, Miriam (JULIE HAMILTON) and Gilbert (TIM ROBERTSON), hear about this, they swiftly move to put an end to it.

As such, Miriam travels to India to retrieve Ruth under the pretense of her father being gravely ill. In reality, the family has hired PJ Waters (HARVEY KEITEL), an American expert at cult deprogramming, to intervene. Of course, once Ruth's back home, she's furious about this turn of events, but eventually concedes to meet for three days with Waters.

Although he has successfully deprogrammed 189 people before her, Waters has a few concerns. For one, his normal assistant is unavailable and he now only has Ruth's inexperienced family - including her brothers Tim (PAUL GODDARD) and Robbie (DAN WYLLIE) and sister-in-law Yvonne (SOPHIE LEE) - to help him.

He also finds himself immediately attracted to Ruth, but decides to proceed anyway with his three-day course of isolation, provocation and confrontation, all of which should lead to eventual success. Thus, they head off to the middle of nowhere and begin.

Ruth is understandably reluctant and doesn't want to participate, but PJ's methods seem to begin working on her. Things change, however, when Ruth realizes PJ's attraction toward her and decides to do some sexually related manipulating of her own.

As the three days progress and PJ's girlfriend, Carol (PAM GRIER), shows up to help the Barron family, Ruth and PJ continue in their battle of wills where the tables are constantly turned and the certainty of who will emerge victorious remains in doubt.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Fans of Winslet or Keitel may draw in some teens, but beyond her one big success ("Titanic") neither star has show consistent drawing power among kids.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong sexuality and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • KATE WINSLET plays a young Australian woman who gets involved in an Indian cult. After being fooled into returning home, she's upset and belligerent toward others, uses strong profanity, smokes, drinks, and seduces and has sex with the man hired to deprogram her.
  • HARVEY KEITEL plays the successful deprogrammer who finds the tables turned when he starts to lose control of the sessions as he becomes attracted to Ruth. Eventually he ends up sleeping with her, losing most of his senses and certainly his professionalism. He also uses profanity.
  • JULIE HAMILTON plays Ruth's concerned mother who does whatever it takes to get her daughter back.
  • TIM ROBERTSON plays her less concerned father who turns out to be cheating on his wife.
  • SOPHIE LEE plays Ruth's sister-in-law who has sex fantasies and oral sex with PJ.
  • PAUL GODDARD plays Ruther's gay brother who tries to help in her deprogramming.
  • DAN WYLLIE plays another brother who tries to help.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity is extreme with more than 10 "f" words being used, along with other profanities and a few colorful phrases. Female full frontal nudity is seen on several occasions, as are several sexual encounters that show and/or suggest both types of oral sex as well as missionary sex with related nudity. Sexually related dialogue is also present, the protagonist briefly, but sensuously kisses another woman, and her brother is a gay man who briefly kisses another man.

    Some violence is present (people striking others) with some bloody results and we hear and see a woman urinating. The film deals with cults and their influence on impressionable, young people, and brief, archival videotape footage is shown of such members who committed suicide (we see the bodies). The protagonist and others smoke, while drinking also occurs, as does some brief drug use.

    Bad attitudes are present in the form of the two main characters getting involved sexually with each other (one cheating on his girlfriend, the other doing it only to manipulate him), while other cheating and bad attitudes are also present. A brief scene showing a young man stepping from the roof of one moving car to another beside it (as both speed down the highway) may be enticing for some kids to imitate.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your home after this brief summary, we suggest that you take a closer look at our more detailed content listings.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Gilbert drinks beer while Miriam has what looks like a drink.
  • Ruth's friend reports to Ruth's parents that those in the cult seemed like they were on drugs (although it doesn't appear they were).
  • Tim and his partner bring beer to his parents' house.
  • Waters has a drink.
  • Ruth tells her mother that she's the only one among her friends who doesn't do drugs.
  • Some of the Barrons and their friends drink.
  • Robbie has a beer.
  • Some of Ruth's family and friends smoke a joint and pass it to Ruth, who's about to smoke it, but PJ throws it out the window of the car in which they're riding.
  • At a club a guy asks PJ if he wants some "weed." He declines the offer. Others drink, however, including Ruth, who later appears somewhat intoxicated.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • A man has some blood on his shirt after having accidentally run headfirst into a pole.
  • We briefly see Ruth vomiting.
  • We briefly see archival videotape footage of the bodies of suicidal cult victims (but beyond being dead they're not bloody or gory).
  • After PJ finds Ruth standing outside completely nude, he hears her urinating and we then see urine running down the bottom of her leg to the ground.
  • Ruth has quite a bloody nose after PJ punches her.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Ruth becomes entranced with her cult to the point of not wanting to go back home to see her reportedly sick father (some may see Miriam as having some of both attitudes for lying to Ruth about her father's fake illness).
  • Yvonne, who's married, sexually fools around with PJ, who has a girlfriend.
  • PJ then loses his professionalism and falls for and has sex with Ruth. Later, he strikes her and then puts her into the trunk of his car as he drives along.
  • We hear that Ruth's father ran off with his secretary.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Miriam has an asthmatic attack while in India and can't find her inhaler while surrounded by strangers.
  • We briefly see archival videotape footage of the bodies of suicidal cult victims (but beyond being dead they're not bloody or gory).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Cap guns: Worn by Tim and his partner to a club and later played with by a younger boy.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "You f*cked up," "Shut up," "Bloody" (adjective) and "Piss."
  • We see two cars driving next to each other down the highway with a man standing on the roof of one and then walking over to the other one while the cars continue moving.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A bit of suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • A song plays in a club where the lyrics couldn't be understood (although a repeated phrase somewhat sounded like it contained the "f" word).
  • PROFANITY
  • Notwithstanding the above, there are at least 12 "f" words (3 used sexually), 10 "s" words, 5 slang terms for/using male genitals ("d*ck" and "pr*ck"), 1 slang term for female genitals ("p*ssy"), 5 craps, 2 asses, 1 damn and 7 uses of "Oh God," 4 each of "God" and "Oh my God," 2 of "My God" and 1 use each of "Jesus" and "Oh Jesus" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see the somewhat overweight Gilbert in a tight-fitting and skimpy bathing suit (or what looks like one).
  • Yvonne shows cleavage in a revealing bikini.
  • A comment is made about "safe sex."
  • We see Yvonne in her underwear and a tight-fitting tank top (and see her spray perfume/deodorant into her panties).
  • Yvonne states to PJ that when she has sex with Robbie (her husband) she imagines having sex with various movie stars. She then explains that when she makes love to him, she stares at cutout pictures of movie stars and imagines being with them. We then see a flashback where Robbie is on top of her having sex (with graphic movement and sounds) as she stares at those photos (and we see her vision blurred by the rapid sexual movement).
  • PJ and Yvonne then make out and she eventually moves down to his crotch (and out of the camera's range) and performs oral sex on him (we see and hear his pleasured reaction).
  • Ruth mocks what she believes are Waters' "Barbie doll" girlfriends by saying, "You're so big. You're so brave. Can I suck your d*ck?"
  • PJ tells Ruth that he and his wife had an open marriage and that they slept around. He then goes on to say that when he met another guru, one day that man put his hand down inside PJ's pants and "pulled my d*ck out" and held it in his hands and then started "rubbing away," but then adds that the guru didn't "come" and he "couldn't f*ck me."
  • We see PJ caressing the side of Yvonne's clothed butt as everyone watches a videotape.
  • PJ walks out to see Ruth standing completely nude in front of him (we see full frontal nudity, and then longer views of her bare breasts). She then comes on to him, and although he initially resists her advances, he eventually succumbs and the two make out.
  • We then see them in bed with him on top of her and between her legs. As such, we see movement, his bare butt and hear her saying "Don't come. Don't come."
  • The next morning we see them in bed and see his bare butt as well as her full frontal nudity.
  • We see Ruth in her bra that shows cleavage.
  • Ruth dances with and kisses a woman at a club.
  • We see most of a man's bare butt in a cowboy outfit he wears at a club.
  • PJ walks out of a bar to find Ruth seated in an alley with two men who have her panties down around her knees and her top partially down (showing her bra).
  • Ruth asks whether PJ likes her personality or breasts better. He states that at this time, he likes her breasts better and states that he has sexual feelings for her. After she makes fun of him, he comments that he had sex with her because she begged him to. They then passionately make out and she tells him to slowly take her pants (her underwear) off. After he does, she then tells him to kiss her down there - around it and gently - and we then see her pleasured reaction to him performing oral sex on her while she stands (we don't see his activity as it's below the camera range).
  • Carol shows up and after finding Ruth nude (we don't see that) asks PJ, "Are you f*cking her?"
  • Ruth comments on PJ's pursuit of younger women as a "p*ssy transfusion." She then half-jokingly says "Let's f*ck" and then starts mocking the related sounds.
  • SMOKING
  • Ruth smokes at least five times, while Robbie smokes a few, PJ smokes once and a few miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Ruth's family is concerned with her involvement in the cult and tries to help free her from it.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Cults.
  • Ruth's use of sex to manipulate PJ, a man old enough to be her father, and him succumbing to her.
  • VIOLENCE
  • A man accidentally runs headfirst into a pole, resulting in a bloody nose.
  • Ruth hits someone with a flag (on a pole) that she pulls from a golf bag.
  • Yvonne forgets to catch a boy who's been running and jumping from the back of a truck and thus he falls to the ground.
  • Ruth slaps a glass from PJ's hand. She later violently pushes something into Water's face.
  • We briefly see archival videotape footage of the bodies of suicidal cult victims (but beyond being dead they're not bloody or gory).
  • PJ hits a man in the face (who was trying to take advantage of Ruth).
  • As PJ tries to prevent Ruth from walking away, she struggles with him, causing him to eventually punch her hard enough to draw blood and knock her unconscious. Later, Yvonne finds a bloodied Ruth in the trunk of PJ's car (with him driving around with her in the trunk).



  • Reviewed January 7, 2000 / Posted February 11, 2000

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