Romain is a very successful fashion photographer who's diagnosed with terminal cancer. He copes by being cruel and nasty to those he loves, until a visit with his grandmother changes his outlook. But, his boyfriend's moved out, now what?
A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.
Haiti, late 1970's. Sea, sex and sun for Ellen, Brenda and Sue, three North American ladies, on the wrong side of forty or fifty-odd, going through an enchanted interlude. Lonely, forsaken, neglected by men in their native countries, they can indulge here in carnal exultation without shame, thanks to handsome local young men they pay a few dollars. Ellen is a Boston French literature professor, Brenda, an unfulfilled wife from Savannah, Georgia and Sue, a sexually frustrated but good-natured Canadian factory worker. In this second garden of Eden they don't care too much about the neighboring poverty nor about Baby Doc's violent dictatorship. The trouble is that that two of the three women have sights on a single man, Legba. And Legba is beginning to be fed up with being a stud... Written by
Visa d'exploitation en France: #107737. See more »
When Brenda is desperately looking for Legba and she wanders around the village at night, one of the guys she crosses by is wearing a Larry Johnson NBA New York Knicks basketball jacket with number 2. Larry Johnson played for the Knicks in the mid '90s. See more »
[in Legba's ear]
For three years, you were all I could think of. I missed you. I missed you so much, it was like an addiction. My whole body ached, my head, my belly. It was just agony, every day, every night. Especially every night.
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The Darker Side Of Female Sexuality And The Aging Woman
Taking us places we've never been before is one of the excellent ways cinema tells artistic stories. HEADING SOUTH deserves much credit for this aspect.
Rarely (if ever) do we see the darker side of female sexuality, and this is explored in minute detail in the film. But the message doesn't stop there. We also see the up- and ultimate downside of Western culture on a society struggling with its own identity; in this case, Haiti.
Haiti is the poorest nation in this hemisphere, not to mention riddled with an AIDS epidemic and a militaristic government. This comes into stark contrast as we watch Brenda (Karen Young) exit a plane in Port au Prince and walk between the desperate homeless and the gun-toting military. She is quickly whisked away from this ugliness and into an idyllic beach resort by its owner, Frank (Guiteau Nestant). Here she meets up with two other "civilized" women vacationers, Ellen (Charlotte Rampling) and Sue (Louise Portal, who has only the slightest role in the flick). They strike up an interesting if antagonistic relationship, especially whenever they're around the lithe and beautiful Legba (Menothy Cesar), a male prostitute of sorts who "services" the ladies of the resort. Yet much more is going on (and has gone on).
Brenda (a white woman from the States) first met Legba years before and experienced her first orgasm with him ...when she was 45; and he was only fifteen. Because we're in Haiti, though, pedofilia doesn't apply. The laws tend to be lax in that aspect. Brenda explains her first sexual encounter with Legba in brutally interesting terms (using words such as "threw myself" and "animal"). We also witness Ellen's attraction to Legba, which also goes deep (no pun intended). Brenda is 55 years old and knows she's on the downside of her sexual identity with men her own age, so seeks out a distant yet physically fulfilling relationship with Legba, too. Trouble is, though, is that both Ellen and Brenda find themselves more than just physically attracted to Legba. Brenda has no qualms about her feelings, and all but plants herself in his lap whenever she can. But Ellen tries to be more aloof, feigning disinterest in anything beyond physical desire (aka lying to herself). Brenda can see that Ellen wants Legba just as badly as she, and so bitter sparks fly amongst them.
But in the midst of these two battling and somewhat selfish women is Legba himself. Born into poverty, he finds himself trapped between the old Haiti and the possibility of a new life with one of the women from the resort (note: Legba is black, in case you didn't realize that). But relationship ties with his mother and an old flame flicker in his mind, holding him back, and threatening his very existence at important crossroads in the story. He's also more outspoken than most of his other male counterparts at the resort, and tells the women exactly what he thinks ("You look old like that"). This endears him even more to the summer visitors.
Life in Haiti is often vicious and fleeting, and this is brought home to the viewer when we watch Legba being chased through Port au Prince by a gun-wielding madman after someone sees him escorting a white woman around the city (Brenda). Nothing good can come from a relationship with these infrequent guests unless he can get off the island. But can he? Is he willing to let go of his homeland and his family in order to just survive in a distant world? Director Laurent Cantet gives us a very good character study while enveloping it in the political strife surrounding Haiti. But the film's pacing is exceptionally slow and male viewers may very well be turned off by the subject matter. Although female pedofilia does exist, it isn't nearly as rampant as the male version. And men may have a better sense of the separation between sex and love (this is a broad distinction, though, and may only hold true in a Mars Versus Venus sense).
Still, the story is interesting enough thanks to some great acting on the part of old-time sex symbol Charlotte Rampling (FAREWLL, MY LOVELY, 1975), and the first-time role of Menothy Cesar as the unforgettable Legba.
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