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Posted October 1, 2010
Having fun in the sun with the Natives
Isn't it interesting that these ladies wouldn't lay their eyes on a black guy back home, but lust after these young men in one of the poorest country? I never knew that sex tourism also include middle aged white women going to Haiti in the 70s for young black guys. This the story of the film "Heading South" (Vers le sud) is telling. Three mid-aged North American women (two Americans and one Canadian) went to Haiti for summer vacation in the 70s, soaking in the sun and their desire for beautiful young Haitian boys. They have what those boys don't have: money and social status. The boys have what the ladies don't have: their youth and bodies. When two of the three ladies want the same handsome 18 years old Legba (Ménothy Cesar), the vacation is over. Nothing much happens but some petty jealousies over Legba, until director Cantet goes outside the circle of this modest resort where Papa Doc's dictatorship touches quietly on their lives -- a reality to which the women wish to remain oblivious but can't. In fact, the most powerful part of the film occurs in the opening scene, where a local black mother tries to give away her daughter to a prosperous black man in order to avoid the child's being taken from her, as often happens to poor blacks in Haiti. There is little sex to spice up the film, regardless of the sexy premise. If “Heading South” had done more with the political and social unrest on the island, as a metaphor for the women's unrest at the resort, there would have been a much more substantial film. Instead we are left with a mild plot bolstered by very interesting and talented older actresses Charlotte Rampling and Karen Young give aching performances as sex-tourist cougars, We can hope that the screenplay is authentic, for it is based on three short stories by the native Haitian novelist Dany Laferrière, who was born in 1953 in Port-au-Prince. He was a late teenager himself in the years when this script is set. He abruptly left Haiti in 1976, fearing for his life, and has lived in Montreal since (spending some time in Miami as well). Aside from that I enjoyed this film for its brutal honesty, its originality, and its thought provoking subject. But one can't help thinking about the double standard, how creepy this movie would be if the tourists were men.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.