Kate Winslet, Queen of the Desert

Ruth Barron (Kate Winslet) i


For Jane Campion’s feature film, which Netflix is ​​offering at the same time The power of the dog (sweetie, An angel at my table, The piano lessons, Shining star) is added, at TCM Cinema, holy smoke (1999), who stands out in the New Zealand filmmaker’s filmography as a college clown on class photo day.

Read also (in 2014): Jane Campion, complex heroine

Grimacing, burlesque, exaggerated and sometimes approximate, this film nonetheless deserves to set aside an evening for the one we will spend wondering about the unlikely harmonies born of the Kate Winslet-Harvey Keitel duo and mock, under the script rococo rolls. (by Jane and Anna Campion) and the staging, themes that the director loves.

It really looks like Harvey Keitel has intervened in his ‘Taxi Driver’ persona

Ruth Barron (Kate Winslet) left the residential suburb of Sidney, where she grew up in India. There, she was enchanted by a guru to whom she proposes to dedicate her life. Under the spell or under the influence. Ruth’s parents are convinced that the second period applies to their particular daughter. Only listening to his courage, Mr.me Barron leaves for Delhi and manages with a gross deficit to convince the young girl to return to Australia.

Somewhere in the bush, in a glowing landscape, awaits PJ Waters (Harvey Keitel), a “deprograms” comes from the US who do a lot to get the prodigal son back on track after a few days behind closed doors, like this fifty year old who looks like a New York mackerel (it really looks like Keitel has pulled on his character of Taxi driver) lifts intensely.

Desire and dominion

Between the saturated colors of the Indian sequences, the grotesque silhouettes of the Australian tribe, the first scenes of holy smoke fall under the squeaky comedy. This makes the registry change all the more disturbing when the programmer and his “client” take up residence in an isolated cabin in the desert.

As in The power of the dog, lust distorts dominance. The expected psychodrama gives way to an erotic flair that will end up leaving the male protagonist devoid of the qualities of his power. Harvey Keitel, who first appeared as the epitome of American manhood (and Jane Campion delights in mocking Australian admiration for everything from across the Pacific), is gradually qualifying her play to crack the portrait of his character, to bring him back to his uncertainties.

Two years after “Titanic”, Kate Winslet seems determined to get rid of any suspicion of British decency

Two years later titanic (meanwhile, we had only seen her inside Marrakesh Express, another story of mysterious emigration), Kate Winslet seems determined to get rid of any suspicion of British decency. Ruth Barron can be naive, in any case she exudes a force that the deprogrammer’s small psychological manipulations can not undermine. Imperial and unpredictable, the actress, despite a certain lightness in the scenario, convinces of the influence that her character exerts on this man who made a point of bringing lost women back to the fold.

If you add an exclamation point, Holy smoke! can be heard as an outdated swear word. But eventually, a breathtaking perfume emerges from this sacred vapor that no longer has anything to do with the intense satire of the first sequences, which is rather the sensuous expression of the eternal object in Jane Campion’s cinema, the path that goes from lust. to love.

Holy smoke, film by Jane Campion (EU-Aus., 1999, 115 min). With Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel, Pam Grier. Broadcast on TCM Cinema and available on demand on MyCanal.

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