At 60, Charlotte Rampling — panther-lean, with hooded bedroom eyes and a taste for movie roles that fall through the cracks of convention — still emits the siren call of sexuality, the beep-beep of danger; what she demands is a confident director who knows how to rample.
Happily, Laurent Cantet has got the knack in Heading South, a pleasurably unsettling, sunbaked tale of sex and politics set in late-1970s Haiti. The star plays a woman who enjoys — and frankly enjoys paying for — the sexual attentions of young Haitian men in a tropical tourist destination that caters to just such a middle-aged clientele. From the sociologically astute director who made Human Resources and Time Out, it’s no surprise that the colonizing ladies (among them an affecting Karen Young from The Sopranos) discover they’re not protected from the island’s violent undercurrent of racism and poverty. What is surprising is the delicacy with which Rampling and Cantet — himself better known as a chronicler of men — create a character of such potent feminine hunger.