Unique and flavorable slice of life. A period melodrama set in Louisiana's Cajun country in the mid-1800s, the film focuses on the title character (Assante), a healer who becomes the central figure in a battle between his fellow French-Canadian settlers and the local good ol' boys. A

labor of love for first-time feature director Pitre, BELIZAIRE THE CAJUN is one of the few films that has examined the lifestyles and customs of the Cajun people. Filmed with great regard to period authenticity, the production brings a unique aspect of the American heritage before a wide audience.

Unfortunately, this cannot erase its multitude of flaws. While the film succeeds as an exciting and energetic piece of melodrama, it never penetrates the surface or offers more than shallow, underdeveloped characters in patented situations. And with the thick cajun accents, the slow pacing seems

to goah on a mi-i-ite too lawn. The soundtrack by Cajun musician Doucet and his band Beausoleil, however, is superb.