french films > Heading South

Heading South

Heading South

cast: Charlotte Rampling, Karen Young, Louise Portal

year: 2005

colour: no

certificate:

director: Laurent Cantet

runtime: 135

With Human Resources and Time Out, Laurent Cantet has established himself as one of French cinema's leading screen realists and analysts of social discontent. His third feature - an investigation of sexual tourism - is arguably his most achieved, and certainly his most challenging. The setting is a beach resort in late 70s Haiti, where middle-aged North American women go to be sexually pampered by young black men, rewarding them with economic and quasi-maternal favours. 'Welcome to Paradise', says the resort's alpha female Ellen (Rampling) to newcomer Brenda (Young), but it's clear that this is anything but paradise. Outside the hotel's artificial bubble, the Duvalier regime is in power, and it can't be long before Legba (César), the young man favoured by both Ellen and Sue (Portal), falls foul of the all-powerful Macoute militia. Basing their script on three stories by the Haitian writer Dany Laferrière, Cantet and regular co-writer Robin Campillo sensitively but trenchantly look into a complex nexus of sexual and political issues. Among the cast of this gripping, compact drama, Karen Young is terrific as the vulnerable Brenda, while as the ambivalent, possessive, highly knowing Ellen, Charlotte Rampling rides her current career renaissance with cool, abrasive brilliance. Year of release in the UK: 2006

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