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July 16, 2007 | by  | in Film |
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Heading South (Vers le sud)

Heading South is a film about middle aged women who head to Haiti in the late 1970s, for fun in the sun and to pay for sex with young black men. The two main characters are Ellen, a Boston French literature professor, and Brenda, a stay-at-home wife from Savannah.

They take pleasure in their carnal escapades, wilfully ignoring the local poverty and increasingly repressive dictatorship of Haitian leader Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, which is what drives these vulnerable young men to them.

Legba, the main Haitian character, is the most sought-after of the male prostitutes. However, he has his own problems, being in love with the mistress of a colonel in the brutal army.

The main weakness, which totally unravels the entire film, is it’s attempt to use the women as metaphors for colonialism, racism and sexual exploitation, which is totally ridiculous. While few countries have suffered from these evils as much as Haiti, it has always been at the hands of powerful imperialists (USA, Canada and France), where these women are pathetic and more like sad heroines from a Tennessee Williams play.

I think it would be possible and important to make a hard-hitting film about the problem of sexual tourism, but this film does not even come close, which is the real tragedy.

LAURENT CANTET

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