The sexual conquests of an aspiring Haitian author fuel Dany Laferriere's autobiographical satire, "How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired." Meant as a commentary on racial stereotyping, the bestseller turned motion picture is little more than an offensively titled low-budget look at scoring with white women in Montreal.
Working with French-Canadian director Jacques Benoit, Laferriere aims to explode the myth that blacks (read black men) are obsessed with sex, food and jazz. Actually "How to Make Love ..." seems to confirm that its hero, Man, is a skirt-chaser with the instincts of a randy stallion and the insights of a chauvinist pig. When he is not cruising for bed fodder, he is writing about his quaintly sweaty conquests.
Isaach De Bankole, the Ivory Coastman who played the servant in "Chocolat," brings his brooding beauty and offbeat charisma to the part of Man, a recent emigre to the lively city. A buddy movie of sorts, the film also stars Cameroon's excellent Maka Kotto as Man's Koran-quoting, jazz-loving roommate, Bouba, a mystic who attracts dizzy babes with his ascetic wisdom and knowledge of tea.
A white friend, Francois (Antoine Durand), frequently visits the two for discussions of Judeo-Christian civilization, "blackness," beauty, desire and white women. Miz Literature (Roberta Bizeau), a WASP college student, is Man's most constant female companion, but as with less frequent visitors -- Miz Suicide, Miz Tickle-Tickle, Miz Bicycle, etc. -- the buddies don't bother to learn her real name.
A feminist nightmare, this sophomoric interracial dating manual does the greatest injury to black women, its invisible victims. At his most crude and insensitive, Man explains the socio-sexual hierarchy to a potential one-nighter: White women service white men, so white women feel more comfortable with black men, who are obliged to service them. "Black women, nobody services them, they serve both whites and blacks," he adds.
The one woman who resists his come-on, a redhead waiting in line at the post office, naturally leaves on the arm of a rather butch feminist. Who but a lesbian could resist a boorish homophobe and potential disease carrier?
"How to Make Love ..." manages to be as piddling as it is pretentious, as racist as it is sexist, as self-hating as it is self-congratulatory what with its jokey references to cannibals and "Cartesian niggers" and "the myth of the black stud." The NAACP has denounced the title for the use of Negro, but Tired is actually the operative word.