What are the main themes in the movie Heading South?
French director Laurent Cantet created the film Heading South (Vers le sud in French) based on stories by Dany Laferrière, who wrote about the vacation pastime of Female Sex Tourism, or travel to foreign lands for the sole purpose of soliciting sex. The film involves three women to travel to Haiti in the 1970s and find that the culture and lifestyle is not what they expected.
The main theme of Heading South is the disconnect between sex, love, and intimacy. The women who travel are doing so because they seek intimacy, but what they get is sex from men who do this for a living, not for romance. One of the women is obsessed with her prior lover; her belief in love is contrasted with his pragmatism. Another man is wooed by two of the women; his interest is in his own safety, as he has personal troubles, and he accepts both their affections without choosing between them, using them for his own purposes.
Another theme is the contrast between wealth and poverty. Haiti is shown to be a place where life is cheap and poverty abounds; the men who work sex for money know their place, and are scorned by higher-class men who work "real" jobs. The woman who travel there are wealthy, or at least comfortable, and although their business is appreciated they are secretly despised by the Haitians for their arrogance and condescension. Meanwhile, the Haitian government is corrupt and preys on locals who cannot pay protection or afford weapons; the hotel manager, who hates the tourists he works for, explains that they have no choice but to accept American money, since the government takes too much in tax for local jobs to afford.