Smoke and fire

Holy Smoke! (1999), directed by Jane Campion

Returning to Australia from India, where she has experienced a religious epiphany, Ruth Barron (Kate Winslet) dances across the dusty red earth that separates her vehicle from an Outback ranch. She's filled with both religious ecstasy and youthful exuberance. It is telling, however, that the song that catapults her into her whirling dance—Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know"—is a pop anthem to feminine rage and power. Ruth has huge reserves of both—and she'll need them. Waiting for Ruth at the ranch are members of her extended family who, concerned about her devotion to an Indian guru, have hired a well-known American cult exiter named P. J. (played by Harvey Keitel). They plan to whisk her into the desert for three days of deprogramming, to be followed by a tearful reunion. But from the moment P. J. sees Ruth, things begin to go wrong.


This article is available to subscribers only. Please subscribe for full access—subscriptions begin at $2.95. Already have an online account? Log in now. Already a print subscriber? Create an online account for no additional cost.

This article is available to subscribers only.

To post a comment, log inregister, or use the Facebook comment box.