Heading South

In Laurent Cantet’s Heading South, Albert (Lys Ambriose), a waiter at a tourist hotel in Haiti, confesses what his grandfather used to tell him: “the white man was an animal.” And today (1970 is when the film took place) their dollars is even more poisonous than their weapons. He went on, “Everything they touch turns garbage.” If Viet Nam is the white men’s “heaven on earth” (as I have been told), Haiti is the white women’s paradise. Single, old, white female can throw their dollars around and get the best sex from young, handsome, black Haitian—the exoticness they can’t get from the black Harlem brothers, according to one of the characters in the film.

Heading South revolves around the love triangle between two old white females and a young gigolo. Ellen (Charlotte Rampling) is a 55-year-old, French-literature teacher at Wellesley who spend her summer time at the hotel pimping young boys. Brenda (Karen Young)—a forty-eight-year-old, divorced, woman—returns to the hotel three years after she got her first orgasm from a fifteen-year-old Legba (Ménothy Cesar). She is obsessed with him not because she loves him, but she loves the way he looks at her. Something that no else, not even her ex-husband, had looked at her the same way. And of course, Legba is the sexy guy that made these old women falling head over hill for him. He got the pimp juice, the six-pack, and the seductive smile.

With Haitian’s gorgeous beach, well-crafted story, and convincing performances, Heading South is emotional, erotic, and political as well—not to mention both the soul- and physical- baring scenes. After all, money can’t buy love. You can only get what you paid for. But then again, money still rules. If you have cash, why need love?