Director of the acclaimed 'Time Out', writer-director Laurent Cantet chooses an unusual topic for his latest film - middle-aged women-turned-sex-tourists in Haiti at the end of the 1970s.

Ellen (Rampling) has been visiting the island for years, and does nothing to dispel the notion that she's the Queen of the Scene. Joining her down on the beach is French-Canadian Sue (Portal) and new arrival Brenda (Young), an American divorcee whose first visit to the island confirmed to her that her marriage was dead. The object of both Ellen and Brenda's affections is Legba (Cesar), a guileless charmer who finds himself embroiled in trouble involving a young female prostitute and the powers that be. And the three visitors are about to learn just how much trouble there can be in 'paradise'.

Cantet has assembled a fine cast opposite Rampling for this film ('The Sopranos' regular Young, 'The Barbarian Invasions'' Louise Portal) but while 'Heading South' is an intriguing film, it's one that's more likely to leave you more cold than moved. Part of the problem is that the subplot involving Legba needed to be developed more and it is also hard to connect with the characters.

As Ellen, Rampling is excellent, but you don't warm to her; Young's Brenda sometimes grates and while Portal plays the most sympathetic and likeable of the three, she doesn't have enough scenes. The pieces-to-camera where the women discuss their experiences aren't developed to their full potential either.

For its contrast of the haves who can fly home with those who can't escape, 'Heading South' deserves praise. But, like its protagonists, you'll wish for something more.

Harry Guerin