With 'Hideous Kinky,' she confirms her maturity and her talent, says Lisa Schwarzbaum

By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated April 16, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Kate Winslet is making all the right career moves

Among the many reasons I adore Kate Winslet is that she starred in ”Titanic” — the biggest box office hit in the history of recorded time — without any help from Harvey Weinstein.

She was nominated for an Oscar without being a size 6.

She fell in love with a man and married him, without making use of him as a prop in a skit to advance her career on ”Saturday Night Live.”

In spite of the celebrity lifestyle available to her after ”Titanic,” she doesn’t travel with a posse.

At the rosebud age of 23, she’s already proven herself to be an actress of exceptional maturity, capable of playing girls (run out and rent ”Heavenly Creatures” tonight) as well as women with hearts scarred by life (take your time but some day rent ”Jude”).

And in the new film ”Hideous Kinky” — her first role since the big ship went down — a beautiful, sweaty, full-bodied Winslet traipses around Morocco in shapeless, brilliantly colored caftans, hair streaming wildly down her back, no fashion influences from Prada or Vera Wang in sight. She plays a vagabond mother with two little girls, an English hippie in 1972 Marrakech who’s seeking her bliss with utter self-absorption. Much of the movie is given over to a kaleidoscopic tour of alleys, deserts, and exotic marketplaces.

Winslet could not have chosen a dodgier, more eccentric project with which to expand on her talent, let alone capitalize on her perishable stardom. And yet, more power to Kate for going her own non-Hollywood way. Because in signing on for this small, self-contained, British fantasia, the actress ensured, by her very presence, that the art-house-oriented movie would get made. She committed to something because she felt passionate about the material, and she knew herself confidently enough to know how well she could flesh out the role. She turns in a performance as golden as the African sun hitting the desert sands in late afternoon.

And I’m betting that, during the whole time she was on location, the actress’ natural dignity deterred any rabid fans who might think about sneaking into her hotel room, as reportedly happened to that guy DiCaprio on location in Thailand. Kate’s not that kind of girl. And I love her for it.

Hideous Kinky

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  • Gillies MacKinnon