April 19, 2010

Haiti Chérie (Claudio Del Punta, 2007)

WHAT IT IS: Two young lovers, of Haitian origin, wishing to escape the utter despair of the Dominican Republic's bateyes, travel cross-country to return to the Haitian homeland in hopes of a better life.

HOW IT IS: As a road movie set on the island of Haiti, Haiti Chérie is a masterful work. Stylistically, It integrated elements from the documentary aesthetic to render first a grim picture of life inside the bateyes (hard labour sugar cane plantations) and the struggle for the less fortunate of us to aspire to a life of decency and honor.

In that regard, its discourse is universal. It is the plight of the world's poor and disenfranchised, tragic and (too?) heavy to bear. The director, Claudio del Punta shows his influences well by drawing inspiration from the Italian Neo-realist movement. Because of that, the movie shares its honest but dark perspective with classics like De Sica's The Bicycle Thieves and Dos Santos's Vidas Secas. The actors are non-professionals but exude the quiet desperation absolutely necessary for their roles. The ending offers no salvation for our characters, as they leave behind one evil to embrace another.

It is a brutal film and stirs up in its spectator, as it should and as did its predecessors, a desire for change. Haiti Chérie is an accomplishment and should become required viewing on the subject.

IF YOU LIKE: Italian Neo-realist films, The Journey, Motorcycle Diaries.

INFO: Haiti Cherie