Review: South (2005)


Director: Laurent Cantet | 107 minutes | drama | Actors: Charlotte Rampling, Karen Young, Louise Portal, Ménothy Cesar, Lys Ambroise, Jackenson Pierre Olmo Diaz, Wilfried Paul, Anotte Saint Ford, Marie-Laurence Hérard, Michelet Cassis, Pierre-Jean Robert, Jean Delinze Salomon, Kettline Amy, Daphné Destin, Guiteau Nestant, Violette Vincent, Michelet Ulysse

Ellen (Charlotte Rampling) knows the ropes. Young men like Legba (Ménothy Cesar) give you money or gifts in exchange for sex and the illusion that you are still young and desirable. The main thing is that you are honest about the business side of such an affair. A matter of mutual respect that she has felt good about for years. Brenda (Karen Young) had her first orgasm in her life three years ago by a very young Legba. She had come to Haiti with her husband, but now she is alone and immediately after arriving she starts looking for her great love. Brenda showers Legba with attention and gifts, but does not follow the unwritten rule that jealousy and possessiveness are out of the question. Someone like Legba is for everyone and therefore nobody’s. Because of Brenda’s passionate love for Legba, Ellen is forced to look at herself. Behind a facade of ridicule and independence hides a woman who yearns for love, true love, but Legba does not belong to anyone, including her.

The first question that comes to mind when watching “Vers le Sud” is who this film was actually made for. You hardly get any wiser about Baby Doc’s reign of terror and the consequences for the population. The moralists don’t get their money’s worth either, because the men who let themselves be paid don’t suffer much. They just make a living doing what they do best. It is not clear that the women exhibit morally reprehensible behavior. They are far too sad for that and suffer from their own needs rather than being an oppressive party. The target audience cannot be anything other than middle-aged women who, like the women in the film, are no longer desired by anyone and who have to resort to paid, but above all affordable sex in a country with a poor population. It’s not about anything else at all.

The result is a cheap novel that is also rather clumsily put together, because the director had lost what he had planned to tell. Still beautiful when you manage to make such a trivial film with such a fantastic actress like Charlotte Rampling, who plays Ellen beautifully, and a debuting Ménothy Cesar, who is hardly inferior to her. And boring too.

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