Saturday, August 6, 2016

Jacqueline Couti's "Dangerous Creole Liaisons"

Jacqueline Couti is an Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Kentucky.

Here Couti dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Dangerous Creole Liaisons:
Dangerous Creole Liaisons mainly explores the ways in which 19th-century white Creole writers from the French Caribbean and some European travelers represent sexualized female bodies and sexual, gender and racial difference to advance their political ideologies.

This book could make a perfect blockbuster with a twist. On the surface, it would seem like the perfect tropical flick with beautiful and flamboyant people, sun, sea and the always possible but elusive sex. I envision a movie that is both a darker and quirkier version of Love Actually as well as a zany adaption of a cheesy remake of A Christmas Carol such as The Ghost of Past Girlfriends. International actors and American big stars will comprise the cast.

The film would start in 2009 with the social unrest and strike that paralyzed Guadeloupe and Martinique for about two months. Eloise, a self absorbed TV reality star watching the news, does not understand the French Caribbean people’s protest. She is annoyed that her holidays to Martinique might be postponed. She is tired of people of African descent who are still complaining about slavery, colonialism, oppression and so on. She believes that racism is dead. She often explains that she had has many boyfriends from Martinique. However, to her surprise, all these relationships ended badly. So she tweets her concerns and frustration. The backlash and fury of hashtags that her tweets generate astound her.

That very night, the ghosts of 3 of her Martinican boyfriends visit her. These men help her confront her prejudices and help her understand the persisting impact of colonial history and slavery. She witnesses the love relationships of 5 different couples in Martinique and Guadeloupe in the 19th century. She then debunks the mythology in the French imaginary constructed around the pure white Creole woman, the sulfurous and seductive mulâtresse (light skinned mixed-race woman usually), the oversexed or evil négresse (dark skinned black woman) and the black man as a stallion. She eventually understands the intricacies of not only love, sexuality, gender, race, but also class and nationalism in the Caribbean. Nothing is simple nor black and white.

Marion Cotillard will play Eloise because a lot of skill is required to move from an obnoxious and clueless person to a mindful one. The ghosts of the boyfriends will be played by Will Smith, Jesse William, and Idris Elba. For the role of pure white Creole women, Audrey Tatou and Sophie Marceau will be great. In their youth, they had an innocence that will be useful in the characters.

For the young and valiant white Creole men, Vincent Perez and Christophe Lambert will be perfect. Vincent Cassel will shine in the role of the obnoxious and/or arrogant colonist.

For the role of mulâtresses, stunning women will toy with the audience’s biases as they cannot be reduced to mere stereotypes. I would have liked to use the Martinican France Zobda when she was still playing the fille en fleur. Noémie Lenoir will also be a great addition.

Johnny Depp will be the psychotic “tragic mulatto” who either tries to pass for white or refuses to pass but is driven to madness and murder due to his anger.

Grace Jones will play the scary but powerful witch whenever needed. She will add panache to this over the top character to show what a ridiculous construction it is. Naomie Harris will play the role of the dark-skinned Martinican woman infatuated with a white Frenchman, who uses her and discards her before going back to his perfect white Creole fiancée, throwing her into madness. She will bring nuance to this protagonist’s emotional turmoil and erratic behavior.
Learn more about the book and author at Jacqueline Couti's website.

The Page 99 Test: Dangerous Creole Liaisons.

--Marshal Zeringue