Heading South Image
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

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  • Summary: On the sun drenched island of Haiti in the '70s, foreigners idle away their vacations in the palm-fringed paradise of the beach hotels. Brenda (Young), Ellen (Rampling) and Sue (Portal), three North American women, converge on the island looking for flirtation, relaxation and respite fromOn the sun drenched island of Haiti in the '70s, foreigners idle away their vacations in the palm-fringed paradise of the beach hotels. Brenda (Young), Ellen (Rampling) and Sue (Portal), three North American women, converge on the island looking for flirtation, relaxation and respite from their colorless jobs and marriages. They find what they are looking for in Legba (Cesar), an enigmatic local Adonis whose beauty and passion has them enthralled. It is this passion that will lead them away from the gilded cage of tourism and will open their eyes to the poverty stricken and dangerous world of Haiti. (Celluloid Dreams) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    100
    Cantet weaves a dark, disturbing story of hedonism, casual racism and the lethal consequences of self-indulgence in his superb drama Heading South.
  2. A pleasurably unsettling, sunbaked tale of sex and politics set in late-1970s Haiti.
  3. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    88
    Director Laurent Cantet's fourth feature abandons the contentious French workplaces of "Human Resources" and "Time Out" for sunnier climes, but this Haitian idyll is an equally excoriating look at labor and exploitation.
  4. 75
    Heading South is strong in bursts, but the bursts are too diffuse for its best moments to last.
  5. If only Cantet and Robin Campillo (who based their screenplay on stories by Dany Lafèrriere) had balanced the sexual and political elements more acutely, the result could have been searing.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    63
    Cantet does something that educated, upscale audiences may find exasperating in the extreme: He takes a tinderbox of racial and sexual exploitation, pours gasoline all over it, and refuses to light the match.
  7. Rampling is fascinating as Ellen, the aging romantic who hardens her vulnerability with a materialist philosophy regarding the buying and selling of sex. The other two actresses give more superficial performances, with Young totally unconvincing as a Southern neurotic.

See all 26 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 9
  2. Negative: 3 out of 9
  1. FredM.
    Feb 19, 2007
    10
    The film's theme - middle age female sexual tourists in the hellish Haiti of the 1970s - will undoubtedly be misunderstood by those The film's theme - middle age female sexual tourists in the hellish Haiti of the 1970s - will undoubtedly be misunderstood by those seeking a conventional fantasy island romance or a political thriller. The story develops in a rather simplistic way presenting its characters without being judgmental at a pace commesurable to the island life. Its portrait of white women in their 50s paying poor young black men for sex and the murderous brutality of the Haitian political regime is presented realistically without melodrama. It is refreshing to see a film attempting to capture life in Haiti as it really was without resorting to Hollywood fakery and not being afraid of presenting older women driven by sexual desire. Expand
  2. KenE.
    Jul 20, 2006
    10
    Complex, intelligent, brilliant.
  3. MartinB.
    Jul 18, 2006
    9
    A well acted, non-formula story depicting exploitation of poor, sexual longing, ageing, race, and political repression in an exotic locale.
  4. SaraS.
    Jul 21, 2006
    7
    good, but could have gone farther. charlotte kicks ass as usual.
  5. KenG.
    Aug 10, 2006
    4
    Nothing really works here. Much of film is simply too dull, and talky, with little going on, until it makes a belated, and rather clumpsy Nothing really works here. Much of film is simply too dull, and talky, with little going on, until it makes a belated, and rather clumpsy attempt to drag itself into thriller territory late in the story. Also, the characters aren't really well drawn, (accept for Rampling). Young's character is seriously underwritten. You get little sense that anyone was giving much thought to her character, as she almost comes off as a silly romance novel heroine, as the lonely woman, feverishly determined to recapture the lone organism of her live, with her dream lover. Please, couldn't they have just made her a woman looking to reconnect with the guy she had great sex with? And her "dream lover" is too much of a blank page to make it believeable that both Young and Rampling would be madly in love with him. The fact that he was a blank page, might have been filmmaker's point. That the women didn't care who he was, they just wanted to use him. But it doesn't work. And the plump French woman, just seems to be hanging around the movie for no particular reason. The filmmakers simply weren't as interested in developing their story and characters, as they were in delivering messages about women, sexual tourism, exploitation, and colonization. Expand
  6. JeB.
    Jul 23, 2006
    3
    great actors, fascinating locatiion--terrible script. so bad, it's laughable. no believeable characters. these over 40 women have no great actors, fascinating locatiion--terrible script. so bad, it's laughable. no believeable characters. these over 40 women have no lives. apparently, their only pleasure is screwing young black men. dialogue that makes one's eyes roll to the back of the head. was hoping for a political film abt. Haiti in the 70s. this is a film made by aging males with an ax to grind. Expand
  7. GeorgeR.
    Jul 23, 2006
    2
    great fertile material, excavated wonderfully for the first forty minutes and then it completely pooped out on itself, becoming laughably great fertile material, excavated wonderfully for the first forty minutes and then it completely pooped out on itself, becoming laughably bad. more like an essay than a compelling narrative. and then more like pure nonsense than a movie. pity - the theater was packed with disappointed hopefuls, spurred on by critics. Expand

See all 9 User Reviews