gets a new look !
Haiti, in the early eighties. A small hotel beside a beach paradise. A few single North American women have settled there among the flocks of tourists: Brenda, politically correct and in her forties; Ellen, a college professor, around fifty, who’s rather used to ruling the roost; Sue, from Quebec, forthright, plump, and vivacious. A gang of young men hover around the hotel, exchanging their charms and warmth for a few favors. 18-year-old Legba is one of them. Drop-dead gorgeous, he’s Ellen’s favorite. The women reconnect with him each year, but this time he’s going to change their lives.
Heading South by Laurent Cantet (Vers le sud, France/Canada, 2005, 105 min.). Laurent Cantet’s (Time Out) third feature, an investigation of sexual tourism, is arguably his most achieved and certainly his most challenging. The setting is a beach resort in Haiti in the late 1970s, where middle-aged North American women (with a lead role for Charlotte Rampling as a Wellesley College professor) go to be sexually pampered by young black men, rewarding them with economic and quasi-maternal favors. Outside the hotel’s artificial bubble, the Duvalier regime is in power, and it can’t be long before Legba, one of the young men, falls foul of the all-powerful Macoute militia. Basing their script on stories by the Haitian writer Dany Laferrière, Cantet and regular co-writer Robin Campillo (director of this year’s They Came Back) sensitively but trenchantly look into a complex nexus of sexual and political issues. Description adapted from the London Film Festival.
September 9, 2005
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