Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    Cantet weaves a dark, disturbing story of hedonism, casual racism and the lethal consequences of self-indulgence in his superb drama Heading South.
  2. 100
    Heading South is a hydra-headed love story, as dangerous as it is heated and complex.
  3. A beautifully written, seamlessly directed film with award-worthy performances by Ms. Rampling and Ms. Young.
  4. A pleasurably unsettling, sunbaked tale of sex and politics set in late-1970s Haiti.
  5. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    The movie itself is a powerful cocktail of not just sex and love but race, poverty, colonialism and jealousy.
  6. Boasts another formidable and fine-tuned performance from the great Charlotte Rampling.
  7. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    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.
  8. 80
    Heading South is a seemingly straightforward and simple picture that's really defiantly complex, sexually, politically and emotionally.
  9. Laurent Cantet's fascinating, troubling drama has many meanings.
  10. In its way, the film is a piercing indictment, though it makes its point without much screaming, hectoring or preening. It's quietly terrific.
  11. The racial and sexual politics of Heading South may trouble some audiences; Cantet is definitely not a moralist in the usual sense.
  12. The film offers something unusual, a tragic spectacle of normal, recognizable and utterly sympathetic people condemning themselves.
  13. 75
    Heading South is strong in bursts, but the bursts are too diffuse for its best moments to last.
  14. 70
    An absorbing extension of Cantet's abiding obsession with the seeding of political inequality in intimate relations.
  15. 70
    An intelligent movie, not so much salacious as affecting but ultimately less analytical than overwrought, Heading South makes its points in the first 20 minutes.
  16. 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.
  17. The film tackles more than it can master, but it's never less than fascinating, and all three leads are exceptional.
  18. Provocative and prodding, but apart from its queen bee Ellen (the marvelous Rampling), the characters are representational types instead of fleshed-out human beings.
  19. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    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.
  20. Cantet keeps a lid on a story that he could have easily exploited, but he makes his points about beauty, fulfillment, self-indulgence and delusion with a measured hand.
  21. Lonely, bitter, insecure and clearly unstable, the women are meant to level the emotional playing field and add depth to what is, at heart, a story about the exploitation of poor nations by rich and powerful ones. But they wind up being too bitter and unstable to elicit much sympathy.
  22. Reviewed by: Jay Weissberg
    Cantet's anticipated follow-up to "Time Out" supplants that pic's important issues with unexamined attitudes toward sex and the tropics.
  23. 58
    Heading South's gender politics keep the movie from being too simple, since these women's self-indulgence can be read as a kind of unfettered (and even laudable) feminism, instead of just unintentional racism.
  24. Among the creepiest adult monologues you'll hear in a regular theater this year comes from Karen Young in Heading South, a well-acted but misguided tale of displaced sexual longing on the beaches of Baby Doc Duvalier's 1970s Haiti.
  25. 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.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 9
  2. Negative: 3 out of 9
  1. FredM.
    Feb 19, 2007
    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. Full Review »
  2. StuartS.
    Oct 21, 2006
    This film is about sex but if you think this is a "sexy" film you will be surprised. A profound look about a subject I knew nothing about in a world before the AIDS crisis. Full Review »
  3. KenG.
    Aug 10, 2006
    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. Full Review »