25 July 2016 | paul-allaer
Tough legal migration family drama from the maker of "A Prophet"
"Dheepan" (2015 release from France; 115 min.) brings the story of a group of Sri Lanka refugees in Paris. As the movie opens, we see a man cremating bodies in the open, and we wonder what is happening. We also see a woman wandering around looking for a child who has lost his or her mother, which she eventually does. Eventually, the picture becomes clearer: in order to be able to migrate into Europe, these three need to pretend to be a family and use a deceased man's (Deepan) passport. They end up in a tough suburb ('banlieu') of Paris, where Dheepan gets a job as the maintenance/groundskeeper guy but where local gangs also run their drug activities. At this point we're 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see how it'll all play out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest from writer-director Jacques Audiard, best known for "A Prophet" and "Rust & Bone". I will go see anything this guy does, simply on the basis of his proved talent and track record, time and again. Here he brings a tough story of, on the one hand, how third-world refugees try to adopt and integrate into a Western society, and on the other hand, the even tougher challenge to survive in a crime-and-drugs infested environment. It doesn't make for easy viewing at times. The three lead performers (bringing us Dheepan, his supposed wife, and supposed daughter) are all nothing short of outstanding. The last 20 minutes of the movie will absolutely blow you away (sorry, can't say more than that).
This movie won the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Why it has taken over a year to reach US theaters, I have no idea, but better later than not. The movie finally opened this past weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and I couldn't wait to see it. The Friday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended reasonably well, but I'm not sure this movie will play more than 1 or 2 weeks in the theater, sadly. If you are in the mood for a tough family drama that gives a great insight in some of the struggles encountered by legal migrants in Europe, you cannot go wrong with this, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. "Dheepan" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!