Heading South

Film
ADULT SWIM Rampling, rear, finds a handy flotation device.
ADULT SWIM Rampling, rear, finds a handy flotation device.

Time Out says

Why not go all the way with that title? Knock off the g from the first word and drop in a kicky apostrophe, and you’ve pretty much nailed the unintentionally raunchy tone of this arty fuckfest about white women vacationing in dark, mysterious late-’70s Haiti. Granted, Heading South does actually attempt to address facets of colonialism—that is, when it’s not addressing the toned, glistening body of its central object, Legba (Cesar), a rentable funboy who works the beaches and bars. Wealthy middle-aged women flock to him, eventually leading to a tense showdown between haughty former customer Ellen (Rampling) and Southern naf Brenda (Young), who may yet have the edge.

Was Zalman King not available? Even if he were, it’s practically a crime that such tawdry material (from stories by Haiti’s Dany Laferrire, coauthor of How to Make Love to a Negro) would preoccupy French director Laurent Cantet, whose last film, 2001’s Time Out, is one of the more subtle examinations of work-related anxiety ever made. Cantet throws in a smidge of Baby Doc--related topicality, a little random violence here and there, to justify his own imperialist project, shot in the amenable Dominican Republic. But the steaminess of the premise defies seriousness, no matter how Gallic the treatment. As a small token of compensation, Rampling seems to be having enormous fun, alternating between condescending postcoital coos to her bed partners and melodramatic bursts directed at her competition. Between this, Basic Instinct 2 and Swimming Pool, she’s having a carnal renaissance. (Opens Fri, Angelika.) — Joshua Rothkopf

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