By Alice King
Updated August 11, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

In Holy Smoke!, director Jane Campion (The Piano) adroitly captures smug, postadolescent rejection of the familiar for new, exotic ”truths” with Ruth (Kate Winslet), a young woman who’s fallen under the sway of an Indian guru. By turns defensive and holier-than-thou, Ruth, radiant in her sari, is confident she’s on the path to enlightenment — and in the face of her beer-swilling, oddball Aussie clan, her affection for the ol’ ashram doesn’t seem entirely misguided. Her inner peace is jangled by P.J. (Keitel), the cocksure, lecherous ”exit expert” hired by her family to deprogram her. Entrenched in a morally ambiguous battle of the sexes (they do, after all, sleep together) disguised as a battle for her soul, Ruth becomes a force of nature, using every ounce of her feminity — not least a beautiful woman’s power to be cruel to an over-the-hill swaggerer — to break him. B+

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