Martin O’Shaughnessy
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Going global, heading south
in Laurent Cantet
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This chapter considers Cantet’s Vers le sud (Heading South), a film about older women sex tourists in Haiti. It explores differences between the film and the Dany Laferrière’s source novel and goes on to show how, demonstrating his Bakhtinian openness to the polyphonic interplay of voices, Cantet uses Laferrière’s vision to turn a critical eye on his own position as a westerner. It considers how, in typical Cantetian fashion, the film uses its ostensible subject, sex tourism, to develop an account of something much broader, the exploitative nature of global consumption. It examines the asymmetric relation between the white women and their young black escorts and considers how, even in the apparently utopian setting of the resort, where we might imagine that two marginalized groups might come together, unspoken tensions are driven into view. Finally, drawing on Simone de Beauvoir’s account of women’s ageing, it shows how the older woman cannot escape the judgement of others’ eyes despite the promises of empowered consumption.

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