Holy Smoke


This movie stars Harvey Keitel and Kate Winslet and is directed by Jane Campion.  (Based on a script by Jane and Anna  Campion.)  It is set, for the most part, in Australia.  Winslet goes to India and falls under the "control" of a charismatic spiritual guru.  Her parents become concerned.  Her mother goes to India and tells her that her father is dying and she must come home.  Only after the mother really becomes ill does the daughter return only to find that her father is fine.  What the family is really up to is to have her deprogrammed by Keitel who is supposedly the world's #1 deprogrammer.   He is flown in from the United States to do the job.  However, in the middle of the job, at a remote desert hideaway, while the two of them are isolated, he falls in love with her and goes a little bit nuts in the process.


Although the movie is flawed, it does a fairly good job of helping us think about the spiritual dimension in our lives.  Winslet's family is a rather unsophisticated lot.  Her father is having an affair and her mother knows nothing about it until Winslet lets the secret out. 


The underlying message is that we need to be more spiritual, but not to go off the deep end.  Both the Winslet and the Keitel characters are fanatics who have falling off the deep end.  At the movie's close, Keitel has returned to his girlfriend and is raising newborn twins and writing a book.  Winslet has gone off to India with her mother (after the father has left) to work with the poor.  In short, they both have found more meaning in their lives without the fanaticism.