Heading South

2006-07-12

in Films and movies

In a number of ways, Heading South is a film that reverses expectations and thereby leads you to question the ways in which an issue is understood. The film is essentially about sex tourism, though the clients are aging women rather than the middle-aged men who would probably be demonized in the standard documentary treatment of the subject. While such condemnation may well be deserved, it doesn’t attach itself so easily in this case. The tensions between the women, and the insecurities within them, provide the dramatic energy that drives this frequently provocative film. The most interesting scenes are a series of confessional sketches, in which different characters direct monologues at the camera. The decision to employ such a technique highlights the quasi-documentary quality of the film.

Primarily in French, with subtitles, the film may appeal to those who know some French and are concerned about having it slip away from them (this is the case for almost everyone I know who was in French immersion.) The portrayal of Haiti under the Duvalier regime of the 1970s is powerful but indirect, consisting largely of a few vignettes showing the lives of people subjected to arbitrary power.

Morally complex and artfully produced, Heading South is a film to see when you want something to think about.

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