Holy shit would have been a better title. What the hell went wrong with this? At the basis was a good idea of trying to deprogram a girl who is "brainwashed" into a new religion, but instead the film ends up as a erotic fever dream with the older Harvey Keitel trying to take advantage of young Kate Winslet as he gets more and more obsessed with her. An excellent fever dream was good, but this film disappointed me.
Look, it doesn't work. It's tonally lopsided. The first act & a half reaches Jody Hill levels of irredeemable contempt for middlebrow society, but then Campion suddenly asks us to give a shit about these slobs; the gender dynamics are nuanced & interesting, until they aren't, & the movie careens into an unearned ending. BUT. When it does work, it's scathing, funny, tender, and immaculately filmed--plus it's Campion!
It's a pretty sloppy movie (especially compared to Campion's previous work), but it seems to elicit an unwarranted level of rancor. The set-up is promising, and there are moments that might have been developed further into a more intelligent narrative. It's like a first draft of a possibly good movie.
Holy Moley... there is a lot going on in this Campion (surprise!) work and I don't like most of it. While I appreciate the feminist agenda of the film, subordinating character design and plausibility to this agenda almost inevitably fails. Nobody in this film is taken seriously and consequently the viewer feels not taken seriously either. A lot of slapstick here, only I couldn't laugh about it.
Depends on whether you want movie to approach you or the other way around; the director doesn't make it obvious which way to go. It's absurd like a failed joke but not clear whether intended (I believe it's): Nice scenes abruptly cut short, bad scenes popping up unexpectedly, glimpses of romance ruined by bad humor, suggest me that it's meant to be funny at the meta-movie level (like a barock comedy).
1 1/2 out of 5 stars. While I was mesmerized by the cinematography and some of the imagery I hated just about everything else about Holy Shi--Smoke. I feel that if Pam Grier would've gotten more than 5 minutes of screen time her character could've salvaged some of this shit show but I think I'm just angry over the 2 hours I wasted on this movie. Ultimately there are just some movies a naked Kate Winslet cannot save.