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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Holy Smoke
Holy Smoke
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Review by Jeremy Kleinman | posted August 22, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Film
Holy Smoke is a supposed romantic comedy starring Kate Winslet and Harvey Kietel. This movie is by far one of the worst films of the year and among the poorest I've seen in years. This is somewhat surprising based on the film's creators. Director Jane Campion previously directed the artful "The Piano," Winslet put in a good perfomance in "Heavenly Creatures" and a couple of the Merchant Ivory films before boarding "Titanic" and Harvey Kietel has played this type of role before with much better results. Nevertheless, before this movie is through, the viewer is subjected to Kate Winslet peeing on herself, Harvey Kietel in a dress, and worst of all, a story that always seems like it just has to get better really soon and never does.

Winslet plays Ruth, a girl who, while in India acquires a new sense of spiritual enlightenment from a guru there. Fearing that she has fallen in with a cult, her family acquires the services of a "deprogrammer" played by Kietel. He then takes her to a fairly secluded house and begins his treatments after getting her to reluctantly consent to do this. The film was originally billed as a romantic comedy battle of the sexes, and was even advertised during its theatrical run with a boxing promotion-like ad. The truth is that the film lacks the charm and enjoyment that other such "battle of the sexes" films often possess and is filled with characters a viewer never develops a reason to care about and a story that is rather frustrating for its duration.

While the film received its share of critical acclaim, the film does not seem to deserve any such praise. While some may feel that I have somehow overlooked Campion's brillance and who wish to subject themselves to this film despite my protestations to the contrary, I fear that there is nothing I can convey in this review which might save such people from both the waste of time and the disappointment that this film will likely cause, but for all others, avoid this film.

The Picture
Holy Smoke is presented in Widescreen Anamporphic with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 The colors are well represented and at times rather vivid. (Keitel's lipstick comes through in a bold shade of red). There are few, if any identifiable imperfections and the audio and video presentation are the least of my complaints about the film.

The Sound
The DVD is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The sound transfer on the DVD is a good one and the dialogue which drives a great portion of the film is extremely clear. Further, a viewer need not adjust the volume throughout the film to enjoy it.

Bonus Materials
While based on the above review, one might think I was relieved to avoid wasting more time on this DVD, I was actually disappointed in the lack of extras. I was hoping for a director's commentary track, simply to get an idea what the hell Ms. Campion was thinking throughout the film. Sadly, such was not present.

Final Thoughts
While I have recommended that viewers "Skip it" this is only because I was unable to select the "do yourself a favor and steer the hell clear of it" option. There are far better films, both mainstream and art-house which deserve your time and attention more than this one.

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