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Romance Drama with Jungle Fever Theme Available on DVD

by Kam Williams

Heading South(Vers le Sud)DVD Review

heading south

Fifty Five year old Ellen (Charlotte Rampling) teaches literature at Wellesley, while Sue (Louise Portal) is a successful businesswoman from Canada, and 48 year-old Brenda (Karen Young), a recently-divorced housewife from Georgia.

The only reason these formerly-frustrated females' paths cross is because they happen to be staying at the same hotel in Haiti, a spinster's sexual utopia where post-menopausal white women vacation in order to indulge their every carnal fantasy with young black men less than a third their age.

In fact, Brenda, who now describes herself as a "bitch in heat," openly admits to having her first orgasm ever on the beach there with a 15 year-old boy-toy. Never pausing to question the ethics of exploiting black skin in this fashion, these hedonists approach the country's impoverished inhabitants as if a commodity available on a quid pro quo basis. Invariably, the relationships sprouting up all around the spa are between wealthy white women offering money, maternalism and a temporary upper-class status, and handsome, eager-to-please natives.

This is the premise underpinning Heading South, a most thought-provoking drama set in the late Seventies against the backdrop of the instability of the regime of Baby Doc Duvalier. This fascinating flick manages to use physical desire as a metaphor, placing intimate relationships under an emotional magnifying glass to examine the prevailing political and social problems then plaguing Haiti. In addition, the picture represents a rare exploration of pleasure purely from an older woman's point-of-view.

Meanwhile, as they remain oblivious of the civil unrest simmering just on the other side of their gated resort, it is only a matter of time before the fallout of colonialism finally comes to contaminate even their erotically-charged oasis. An island paradise morphs into a frightening nightmare, but not before Ellen, Brenda and Sue get their grooves back.

Excellent (4 stars)
In French and English with subtitles.
Running time: 105 minutes
Studio: Genius Productions

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