'A beautiful young woman, Ruth, falls under the spell of an Indian guru. Desperate to rescue her, her family tricks her into returning to Australia, where she is forced to submit to deprogramming. A tough battle of wills ensues.' (Publication summary)
During a backpacking holiday in India, Ruth, a young Australian woman, experiences a spiritual awakening at an ashram. Convinced that she has found peace, harmony, and purpose, she decides to stay on with her newfound guru, much to the horror of her family in Australia. Luring her back to suburban Sydney on false pretenses, they employ the services of P.J., an American 'cult-exiter'. The deprogramming encounter that takes place over three days in a shack on an isolated outback farm becomes a battle of wits and wills over spirituality and sexuality.
Returning to the themes of dysfunctional family life that Jane Campion focused on in her first feature film Sweetie, the Campion sisters employ cultural stereotypes to contrast the exotic appeal of Eastern spiritualism for the idealistic Ruth with her family's lack of understanding and crassness. The narrative's central concern with the search for the meaning of life is juxtaposed with moments of high melodrama and with comedic elements drawn from the repertoire of cliched Australian 'types' that were a commonplace of Australian cinema in the nineties. Though Campion clearly demonstrated her cinematic and technical proficiency as a director, some critics consider the story to be somewhat clumsy and overambitious.