Heading South


Heading South

Critics Consensus

As touching as it is disturbing, Heading South is an unconventional exploration of desire and longing, with superb performances and direction.



Total Count: 82


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,780
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Movie Info

A trio of lonely, middle-aged American women finds their growing disillusionment with stateside men leading them to seek emotional comfort and sexual gratification in the arms of young Haitian man in Time Out director Laurent Cantet's emotionally incisive adaptation of Haitian-Canadian author Dany Laferrière's acclaimed short stories. Competing for the attentions of beautiful young Haitian native Legba (Ménothy Cesar) are 55-year-old Wellesley professor Ellen (Charlotte Rampling), sexually frustrated Canadian factory worker Sue (Louise Portal), and fortysomething Georgia blonde Brenda (Karen Young). The Hotel Petite Anse is a haven for older women seeking the companionship of younger men, and doyenne Ellen has come to establish herself as something of the queen bee of the popular island establishment. Despite the constant threat of Baby Doc Duvalier's thuggish henchmen, these lonely women risk their livelihoods to bask under the sun and forget the troubles of their daily lives as the line between exploiter and exploited becomes increasingly blurred. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Heading South

All Critics (82) | Top Critics (27)

  • Exploring female desire in a way films rarely do, Heading South is a film of sometimes subtle, sometimes blunt metaphors for the interaction of rich and pauperized countries.

    Sep 23, 2006 | Rating: B-
  • The film offers something unusual, a tragic spectacle of normal, recognizable and utterly sympathetic people condemning themselves.

    Sep 1, 2006 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • An unsettling drama by the director of two other remarkable films about class illusions, Human Resources and Time Out.

    Aug 25, 2006 | Rating: 3/4
  • The movie avoids devolving into polemic by treating its characters as individuals.

    Aug 18, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/5
  • In its way, the film is a piercing indictment, though it makes its point without much screaming, hectoring or preening. It's quietly terrific.

    Aug 17, 2006 | Full Review…
  • At 60, with three 2006 releases in the can, Rampling still seems an international treasure, a great camera subject and a truly daring actress.

    Aug 17, 2006 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for Heading South

  • Jan 12, 2009
    The film takes place in Haiti in the late 70's and is about three older single women visiting a beach resort to take advantage of the sun, sea, sand, and young Haitian men. I loved this film. It feels very French in its tasteful restraint. Actual sex is never shown, yet it is every bit as titilating as if it were. This movie asks questions you didn't want to think about and turns perceptions around. The sad revelations at the end of the film say a lot about human nature will keep the film in your mind.
    April N Super Reviewer
  • Jul 24, 2006
    [font=Century Gothic]"Heading South" takes place in Haiti in the late 1970's where Brenda(Karen Young), a 48 year-old woman, returns after a visit three years previously where she enjoyed a tryst with a Haitian boy, Legba(Mentothy Cesar), and enjoyed her first orgasm. She stays at the same hotel and meets him again but is unpleasantly surprised to find Ellen(Charlotte Rampling), a 55 year-old professor, holding court. Ellen has spent the previous six summers at the same hotel to pay for sex with the young Haitian men who hang out at the beach. And she is not the only one...[/font] [font=Century Gothic]"Heading South" is an ambiguous and matter-of-fact movie about the controversial subject of sex tourism. Had the American characters been men, then they would have been much less sympathetic. Here they are middle-aged women in the midst of the sexual revolution just before AIDS decimates Haiti. They are exploring their sexuality in a way that would have been impossible back home. They are balanced with the young Haitian men who engage with the women in an attempt to escape their desperate lives of poverty and repression under the brutal Duvalier regime.[/font]
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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