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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Dheepan won the Golden Palm in Cannes recently so it's normal you walk in expecting to see a great movie, if not a masterpiece. However, I feel either the competition in Cannes was pretty average OR the Golden Palm went to Dheepan for political reasons, being the current refugee crisis Europe is facing which makes the movie highly actual.

    Don't get me wrong: Dheepan is certainly not a bad movie. The story line about a Tamil rebel in Sri Lanka escaping to France with a fake id and a fake wife and daughter seams promising at first. Everyone is acting top notch but where the movie fails is the stereotypical portrayal of the suburbs in France, making it seam as these are only drug territories and there is literally in the movie not one normal human being around. The movie completely goes out of the bend in the last 15 minutes in which the main character suddenly becomes a Travis Bickle Taxi Driver copycat and starts shooting anyone in sight. At this point the movie becomes plainly a bad action movie, because the way it is shot is not even better than your average action movie. Probably the director was intending to show some sort of catharsis or wanted to give a moral message how people become violent, but frankly even Death Wish or Taxi Driver did a much better job of showing a 'good' person turning nasty.

    So, I do have pretty mixed feeling about Dheepan and I suspect heavily the Golden Palm was awarded more from a political point of view than an artistic one.
  • Dheepan (the first leading role for Jesuthasan Antonythasan) is a Tamil fighter. He flees war-torn Sri Lanka with Yalini (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and Illayaal (Claudine Vinasithamby), posing as his wife and daughter , hoping that they will make it easier for him to get asylum in Europe . The makeshift family arrives in France and Dheepan finds work as a caretaker for an apartment building that is also a drug front . As Dheepan finds work as the caretaker of a run-down housing block in the suburbs ruled by a nasty gangster (Vincent Rottiers) . But the daily violence he faces off quickly reopens his war wounds , and Dheepan is forced to reconnect with his warrior's instincts to protect his new family .

    Jacques Audiard's follow-up to Rust and Bone took home the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival . This thoughtful film has emotion , intense drama , thrills , political events and violence . Dheepan thrives on silence and it results to be a French film shot nearly entirely in Tamil language . A nearly wordless opening showing the eponymous character's tragic departure , the desperate meeting of Dheepan, Yalini, and Illayaal, and the voyage west is particularly effective . Audiard jumps smoothly through time and forces the audience to catch up with only the barest context, producing a marvelously suspenseful prologue . Good performance from Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan , a Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who flees to France and ends up working as a caretaker outside Paris . Jesuthasan was a boy soldier with the Tamil Tigers before fleeing Sri Lanka for France, just like the character he plays in the movie ; he is a writer, novelist and political activist in real-life . Excellent female lead actors Kalieaswari Srinivasan and Claudine Vinasithamby , both of whom never acted in a feature film before . Special mention for Vincent Rottiers as a tough mobster . Being first feature film of cinematographer Éponine Momenceau who creates an evocative as well as atmospheric cinematography and composer Nicolas Jaar who composes an adequate score . Being shot on location in Mandapam, Tamil Nadu, Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India and La Coudraie, Poissy, Yvelines, France .

    The motion picture was well directed by Jacques Audiard who gets phenomenal interpretations from the three leads , who are all essentially non-actors . Audiard is a good French writer and filmmaker . In the eighties he wrote the screenplays of some successful movies like "Mortelle Randonnee" (1983), "Reveillon Chez Bob" (1984), "Saxo" (1987), "Frequence Meurtre" (1988) and "Grosse Fatigue" (1994). Most of those films were thrillers directed by prestigious filmmakers like Claude Miller and Michel Blanc . He also directed some well received short movies . Thanks to the success of those movies he was able, in 1994, to raise up the money to make his first movie "Regarde Les Hommes Tomber" starred by Mathieu Kassovitz . Kassovitz also became the star of his second movie "Un Heros Tres Discret" released in the Festival de Cannes in 1996 where it won the award for best screenplay. In 2001 he made his third movie "Sur Mes Levres" about a love story between two outsiders . His last movie, "De Battre Mon Coeur Sest Arrête" was released in the Berlin festival of 2005 . His greatest success was ¨A prophet¨ . With those movies, Audiard has become the new master of the "polar" or French thriller and inheritor of others great French directors like Jean-Pierre Melville and Henri Georges-Clouzot .
  • Watched this prestigious Palme d'Or winner in the local art house cinema Zawya, it is French auteur Jacques Audiard's seventh feature film, who is on a hot streak in the past decade, from THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED (2005), to A PROPHET (2009), then RUST AND BONE (2012), now finally DHEEPHAN hits the home run in his motherland.

    To escaping from the living hell of a defeated war in Sri Lanka, a Tamil freedom fighter Dheepan (Antonythasan, who was a real-life boy solider of Tamil Tiger before fleeing to France), forges a family with Yalini (Srinivasan), a young woman in her early twenties and Illayaal (Vinasithamby), a nine-year-old girl, which facilitates the process of seeking asylum in Europe, and they end up in a Le Pré, a suburban area of Paris (although Yalini hopes to go to the Great Britain, where her cousin is) where anarchy is still held rampant among local gangsters. In spite of their language debacle, Dheepan becomes a caretaker of a derelict housing block and he also finds a job for Yalini, as a hourly maid to attend to a senior uncle of the gangster member Brahim (Rottiers), who has just been released from the penitentiary for probation, whereas Illayaal enrols in the local school where she has a tough time to blend in.

    Paris, even the suburban area, should be a safe haven for the makeshift family taking flight from a war zone, but in Audiard's conception, France is far cry from a paradise for immigrants and refugees, hooliganism and gang war threaten Dheepan and his family's life almost on a daily basis, which is an ever so familiar situation for them, as if the shadows of war have tracked them from their native country to another continent, no exit is on the horizon, everywhere seems to be a dead-end, life is almost the same, worthless, in spite of being accommodated in a quite comfy apartment and earning a self-sufficient wages, they can be dispatched by the flying bullets any time on the streets, even under the broad daylight. Sooner or later, the straining mental stress will implode, especially for Yalini, whose working condition becomes increasingly precarious since she deals with gangster members first-hand, a highly-stylish set piece where Dheepan single-handedly takes on the droogs to save Yalini, with unusual subjective camera angle and heightened slo- motion shots aiming persistently to the waist-below, it is Audiard's intemperate stunt to impress after holding it back for a long time, nevertheless it deficiently appeases what viewers anticipate (especially when Dheepan's provocative behaviour of drawing the line between warring gangsters receives no personal danger to him or whatsoever) - to exaggerate Dheephan's "heroic act" as if he is the action hero who is capable to calmly finishing off his enemies one by one with great panache, is too much a stretch, even for someone with his battlefield background, since his life is too insignificant to matter under the radical situations which Audiard insists to lead us on. So is the ambiguous happy ending in England, a dream too perfect to be true which contradicts the harsh realism which Audiard intently fabricates.

    Where all three main actors are non-professionals, it is pleasing to watch a tangible bond has been built between Yalini and Brahim, lost in translation, they don't understand each other's language, but the beguiling charm and draw between total strangers has reached its well-received receptor without put civil decency at its expense. In spite of being an allegorical account of a seemingly ordinary person's unexpected hidden depths, DHEEPHAN arrives topically in the current muddy waters of immigrants and war refugees in Europe, it leaves the impression of a self-justifying excuse to warn those unfortunately masses, but maybe they are not deeming Europe as the promised land, for them, any place other than their levelled home, is an egress from danger and poverty, so, at such desperation, it is well worth it.

    One particularly telling scene of Audiard's poetic creativity is when the location transitions from Sri Lanka to Paris, the blurry fluorescent light slowly reveals itself being generated from a plastic hat which Dheepan wears when he is hawking on the street of Paris with other immigrants, such sleight-of-hand is mesmerising, alas, there is just not enough of them in this Palme d'Or crowner.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Although it must be a coincidence, the timing of this film's release is pitch perfect. Just when thousands of Syrians are trying to escape their warn-torn country, and some European politicians are complaining about a 'swarm of migrants, trying to plunder the welfare state', 'Dheepan' shows what it is all about to be a refugee.

    It is about desperation, about fear, about loneliness, about poverty, about not being able to leave your past behind, no matter how hard you try. And yes, it is also about deceit.

    The refugees in 'Dheepan' have to lie to get away from the civil war in Sri Lanka. They pretend to be a family of three, but in reality they are neither husband and wife nor the parents of their child. This makes their life in Europe even more complicated. The tensions between the three of them come on top of the difficulties they already have adapting to life in a new country.

    The film shows how the title character, a former Tamil Tiger, gets a job as a caretaker in a crime- and drugs-ridden apartment block in the Paris suburbs. They have fled the violence of their own country, only to be exposed to violence of a different kind. In the end, this turns the peaceful caretaker Dheepan into a fierce fighter once again.

    There has been some debate about the ending. It differs from the rest of the film. The raw realism from Dheepan's life in the rundown neighbourhood gives way to a more spectacular, adrenalin-fueled style. Although it is quite a change, I thought it worked well. It gives the film a sharp edge, particularly in contrast to the epilogue, which offers food for thought in itself.

    Audiard once again has made a very powerful film about strong characters trying to survive in difficult situations. As in his other films, his heroes are ordinary people, with character flaws and weaknesses, who nevertheless show strong determination to get what they want out of life. For a French director, it takes some guts to make a film which is mostly spoken in the Tamil language. It's proof of his original and individual approach to film making. As much praise as he deserves, he couldn't have done it without the remarkable accomplishment of his two lead characters, who show an incredible range of emotions without a single moment of overacting.
  • The renowned French filmmaker, Jacques Audiard back with this new sensational film. This time he has chosen to tell us the story of a Sri Lankan Tamil Eelam freedom fighter who had fled to France after the war, followed by his struggles in the new place. The entire film was in Tamil language, but there some French dialogues too. I have been waiting for this, even after I got many opportunities, I had postponed them for some reasons. Finally, I'm very happy for not just got over it, but for the film that has powerful contents to give a peek into the immigrant's lifestyle, I mean not in a pleasant way.

    Right now it is a huge issue around the world to curb the immigration, especially the illegal ones. But some reasons are really heartbreaking, like in the film 'The Good Lie'. Usually the people like in this story are not welcomed, so they have to lay low and swallow all the troubles they bump into. Sometime the events reflect what happened back in the homeland. In a such way this tale takes place where a civil war fighter, Dheepan, from Lanka lands in France with his fake family of a wife and a daughter named Yalini and Ilayaal respectively.

    In order to forget the past, he tries his best to start over a new life. Since he did not come wealth, he had to adapt whatever life offered to survive and to protect his family. Knowing living on the edge of the fire, they were left alone, but how long, because the fire flame always catches the vulnerable objects around it. So what comes later is the finale with a twist and to follow the end credits.

    I have seen many films about what this film was focused on, but this was somewhat different, mainly because of people from the culture of less known geographical area. I can understand Tamil, but I found hard to get this Sri Lankan Tamil lines. There were films about Sri Lankan refugees, those films like 'Nandha', 'Kannathil Muthamittal' are different kinds. Maybe this is the first western film to dig on Lankan Eelam topic, especially after the end of civil war and far away from the home. Though it does not take a side, except opening scene, the rest of the film is set in France.

    "Sometimes, they say things and laugh. I understand all the word, but they don't sound funny"

    They have got a simple storyline, but developed to its best. The progression becomes stronger, particularly when it reaches the final stage. I think the filmmakers did a good research, especially the cultural differences to highlight. That's the most of the film concentrated to only on the one perspective, but the threats what people like them face was also brought into the narration. Like caught between the two worlds and culture, and to defend themselves, to do what has to be done.

    Very realistic approach, but the question is do the things like this happen in real, especially in France? If you like Jacques Audiard films, then you should not miss it at all. These main actors are kind of new in front of the camera and they were amazing. Technically as well the film sounds good, but as I had heard, the filmmakers were hurried to finish it off when the Cannes Film Festival was around the corner. I think they have managed everything properly, and you would too appreciate the effort once you watch it.

    It went to numerous film festivals and won some awards that includes Palme d'Or at Cannes. Kind of must see by the director's fans, even if you are not a fan, it is still worth a watch. Because you won't get another this or seen before. Even if you did, the cast wasn't the familiar one. That's the big difference here. The film has a message like, what one must be doing in his second chance of life. There are violences, feels strong, though the effects are raw, not the events or the scenes. Definitely not a masterpiece, but still I would recommend it for the adults.

  • In our review for Robert Guédiguian's wonderful film "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" ( we raised the question whether Art should be an imitation of life or whether it should be the other way around. The advocates of realism will make the first choice since, in their opinion, life is full of ugliness that Art must faithfully portray. As is often the case, the artist does not even distinguish between realism and pessimism. In the case of cinema, in particular, the audience must leave the theater full of dark thoughts and feelings of vanity; happy ending is a taboo and a positive message should be hard to find. Idealism, on the other hand, reserves a more noble and ambitious role for Art by creating high standards of human character, thus offering psychological, ideological and aesthetic motivation for man to overcome the inherent weaknesses of his nature and morally elevate himself by striving to reach these standards.

    Guédiguian's film masterfully balances between these two opposite philosophical trends. One could hardly say anything less about Jacques Audiard's "Dheepan" (Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival). In the first place, the subject – immigration to Europe from war-torn places of the Third World – is so timely that the film almost acquires the character of a documentary. The audience, however, progressively witnesses a marvelous transformation from the harsh reality of human survival to the final triumph of human moral exaltation!

    Here is the beginning of the story:

    "Dheepan" is a freedom fighter of the "Tamil Tigers" in the Sri Lankan Civil War. The war approaches its end and defeat of the revolutionaries is imminent. Dheepan, whose entire family was lost in the war, decides to flee the country together with a woman and a little girl – two persons previously unknown to him as well as to each other – in the hope that, by pretending that they are a family, it would be easier for them to claim asylum somewhere in Europe. Arriving in Paris, the "family" seeks temporary housing while Dheepan tries to earn some money by selling little things under the nose of the Police. Finally, he finds a permanent job as a caretaker in a building block somewhere in the suburbs. Although the place is miserable and, moreover, is a den of unlawful activities, Dheepan works hard to build a new life for him and his new family...

    The craftsmanship of the narrative lies in the wonderful balance between the hard realism of the subject and the cinematic poetry that permeates the film from beginning to end. This narrative carefully and skillfully avoids the traps of over-sentimentalism and political didacticism, as well as the temptation of sanctification or demonization of the various characters, as such oversimplifications would undoubtedly undermine the artistic result. The main heroes, in particular, are not a priori "good". They discover the good parts of their own nature as the story progresses, thus developing as human beings in the process.

    It is precisely this miracle of character revelation and moral elevation in front of the viewer's eyes that makes cinema such a wonderful art, after all. And, even if it seems too idealistic to be true, this miracle is far from representing a utopia!
  • Winner of the prestigious Palme d'Or at 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Dheepan may not be as strong a cinema as past few recipients of the same honour but it nonetheless succeeds as an engrossing, absorbing & reflective drama that illustrates the plight of immigrants with unflinching honesty and is substantially boosted by outstanding performances from its leading cast.

    Dheepan tells the story of its titular character, a former Tamil Tiger soldier who pairs with a young woman & a 9-year old girl together posing as a family in order to leave Sri Lanka and begin a new life from scratch. Upon his arrival in France, he manages to secure the job of a resident caretaker but the daily violence in the neighbourhood turns out to be another conflict zone for him.

    Co-written & directed by Jacques Audiard (best known for A Prophet), Dheepan isn't as enthralling as his finest work but it is still a powerful piece of work that's completely devoted to its characters, is expertly narrated & steadily paced. However, what impressed me most was the authenticity with which it captures the language & other barriers any immigrant faces in a different country and the desperate attempts he/she makes just to blend in.

    The technical aspects are finely executed. The set pieces provide a fitting setting for the drama to unfold at, Cinematography is effectively carried out with the best part saved for the final act which in itself was an unexpected turn, Editing could've applied a few more trims to the final print, music nicely compliments the whole narrative yet it's the performances from its relatively unknown cast that steals the show with the titular character being played by a former real-life LTTE soldier.

    On an overall scale, Dheepan is a thoroughly engaging narrative about immigrant experiences that grabs the viewers attention from its opening moments, offers a harsh but fair look at the tough life of refugees looking for a new home in a foreign nation and packs in an interesting set of characters who are ingeniously brought to life by its committed cast. While the story unfolds at the same level for the most part, the final act simply explodes out of nowhere and is sure to leave its viewers in a shell-shocked state. Definitely recommended.
  • Reviewed by Larry Gleeson. Viewed during 2015 AFI FEST.

    "Dheepan," is the latest work by director Jacques Audiard. Audiard has to his credits the critically acclaimed and well nominated films "Rust and Bone"(2012), and "A Prophet"(2009). "Dheepan," is written by Audiard, Thomas Bidegain and Noe Debre', and tells the story of a Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger, called Dheepan. Dheepan is played by Indian actor, Antonythasan Jesuthasan.

    Winner of the coveted Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, "Deephan," is a visual feast beginning in the jungles of Sri Lanka and the ensuing shots depicting Dheepan's cultural transformation in the night streets of Paris. Epinine Momenceau provides the cinematography in a compelling manner along with a nicely done soundtrack by Nicolas Jarr.

    As the film opens we see Dheepan and fellow Tamil warriors placing dry palm branches over a funeral pyre. Dheepan place his military fatigues on top and lights the fire. Sri Lanka is mired in a bloody civil war. Dheepan along with an unknown woman called Yalini, played by Kalieaswari Srinivasan, and a young orphan girl, Illayaal, played by Claudine Vinasithamby, decide to flee the strife together and set out for a new life in the suburbs of Paris posing as a displaced refugee family. With the inventiveness of a well versed interpreter, Dheepan and Yalini pass their social services interview and find employment as caretakers of a not so well-to-do housing project and one of it's incoherent inhabitants.To complicate matters, Illayaal is having difficulties at school, Dheepan is contacted by a Tamil warrior who insists Dheepan continue the fight for freedom, and Yalini is becoming attracted to the gang leader nephew of her incoherent charge. This is all on top of the deeper humanistic component of three strangers living together as a family in a small apartment in an entirely foreign culture.

    Soon, however, Dheepan and his refugee family begin to pull together as they experience renewed forms of violence. Their challenging suburban life becomes increasingly dangerous due to drug activity and an ensuing turf war that hits too close to home. Dheepan, working primarily as an janitor, takes a stand and declares a no-fire zone between his apartment building and the adjacent housing project much to the disbelief and chagrin of the well-armed gang members. As the turf war breaks out and spills over into the "safe zone," Dheepan shifts gears and his switch is flipped. He becomes an uber-soldier defending and protecting what has become his. This is an extraordinary transformation as he resorts to survival skills presumably developed as a Tamil freedom fighter. The action sequences heightens the drama in its fragmented and rather hazy segments as Dheepan's deep and powerful emotional chords propel him through the violence and chaos until victory is his.

    All in all, I found "Dheepan," to be a very moving film with its riveting action sequences contrasting with its earlier tender, more human sequences. Audiard takes a very timely topic, the displaced refugee, and embodies him and her, with very human characteristics. Highly Recommended.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Note: I have tried to write only in very vague terms about the film's concluding half hour, and I think I have avoided 'spoilers', but there's no way to discuss the film without indicating in a general way how it evolves. I knew nothing about the film's story arc when I saw it, and I think that was a plus for my experience, so read forward at your own emotional risk.

    Not everyone responded enthusiastically to Jacques Audiard's confusing and disturbing film. It tells of a 'family' of war refugees escaping from Sri Lanka to France. In reality none of the three in the 'family' even knew each other in Sri Lanka, but now that they've used the lie to escape with their lives, they have to keep the story up. This leads to odd, sad and fascinating dynamics. There's Dheepan – a mid 30s ex soldier suffering from PTSD. Yalini is his much younger 'wife', for whom playing family, especially 'mother' is a painful and confusing prison when she dreams of a chance to become her own person. And 'their' child is a bright, sweet 9 year old orphan who was dragged into this situation without anyone asking her permission or caring how she felt. Now the three have to figure out how to survive in a violent and poverty stricken French housing development riddled with drug dealers. It's better than where they were, but far from the haven they might have imagined.

    Up to this point in the story there's no question the film is a powerful and sad human tale. Almost everyone has responded to both the situation and the excellent performances. But then there's a sudden odd and violent series of twists in the last half hour, which culminate in some extremely enigmatic final images that resist neat interpretation. These are what has caused much of the mixed reaction to the film. And I can certainly understand and even empathize with those who feel the film betrays it's first 2 acts to go off in a skewed direction that defies emotional logic. But for me, it worked. There was something dream-like for me about the whole film that allowed a sudden veering into a surreal nightmare – as sometimes happens in dreams. And something satisfying about going deeper into the specific nightmare that belongs to a tortured man who killed and watched death for years as a soldier. It may not be satisfying in a conventional sense, but it sure as hell shook me out of any more common, simple 'isn't that awful' reaction to our character's plight and pushed me into deeper thought and emotion about class, violence, the scars we carry, and what we try to hide behind our masks as we fit in to societies that can be cruel and uninterested in those at the bottom of the ladder – immigrant or local.
  • From the ashes of the Sri Lankan war a trio of strangers forms a family. It is an act. It is a passport across borders that none of them could get by as easily on their own. They are all orphans; man, woman and girl. Each of them has lost everything and everyone. Selling trinkets on the streets, learning new languages, understanding foreign cultures, realizing the ropes in a crime ridden housing project and avoiding warring factions are only some of the hoops they must jump through in their new home in order to survive. Adjusting to a new world is difficult, yet a greater metamorphosis is required inside each person. To make things work each must believe in the fiction of the family. Fluid identities must be embraced.

    The toughest thing is learning to live with each other. For each adult it is like having two kids to deal with; teenager and spouse are equally petulant. It is not merely the practical things that are needed to survive, it is learning from each other, talking, having a sense of humor, kindness and love. In this sense, this family of strangers could be any in the world. We all could believe in this "fiction."

    There were times during the film, for instance a character flashback and close-up of an elephant on the verge of charging, where I felt a rush of emotion. It was such a change of tempo in sound, plot and vision, and so magical even as brief as it was, that it was like an electrical current surging along my spine. I wish there were more such flashbacks, but that might have taken from the charm. The plot of the story, a migration from a war-torn land and individuals reconstructing their lives as well as their identities, is timely and portent. The only addition for a perfect film; more believable acting. Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Seen at the 2016 Miami International Film Festival.
  • Karl Self6 December 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    When the movie started rolling, I realized to my horror that Dheepan might be a socially forward refugee drama, i. e. a deeply emphatic slush story about refugees coming to Europe, having to deal with hardship, being discriminated and exploited, with their dreams eventually being crushed by a cruel and uncaring society. It's not that I'm twisted and cynical and don't care about other people's plight in real life, only I don't get a kick out of being moralized in my spare time. Luckily, Dheepan's -- the main character's -- story takes another turn. At first we see him escaping from a refugee camp in India; together with a young woman and a girl, they pose as a family, although they have never seen each other before, and manage to escape to Paris. Here, Dheepan struggles to get by, hustling cheap merchandise to café patrons. Then he manages to land a job as a janitor in the suburbs. Suffice it to say that les banlieues in this movie are rifer with crime than the Lower East Side in Once Upon A Time In America. Far from Gay Pareeh, Dheepan finds himself in far hotter water than he'd expected. Ultimately he makes a last stand against the criminals who have humiliated him for so long.

    Dheepan is at the same time a fascinating as well as a deeply flawed movie. Like I said, I was very glad that it went off the trodden path, and it tells a surprising story in a captivating way. It's beautifully shot and acted. The director shows great courage by refusing to humanize the -- mostly Arab and black -- criminals. He displays them as criminals, i. e. not terribly nice people. But not everything pans out. First of, the Parisian suburbs are displayed as some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland, which is way beyond the pale. There seem to be a lot of sub-stories which don't check out, e. g. the criminals resent Dheepan fixing the elevator, but we never get to know why. In the end there is an explosion of senseless violence that puts The Expendables to shame, and suddenly we find Dheepan living a new life in England, with the girl nowhere to be seen.

    If you ask me, the Palme D'Or was rightly awarded, and for artistic reasons and not for political correctness. But it is an imperfect, flawed movie.
  • quinimdb28 December 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    "Dheepan" is an incredibly gripping character study of a man who was a Tamil soldier in Sri Lanka, who soon meets with another female refugee and a young child with no parents in order to pose as a family so that they can escape to France.

    It is clear that the members of the fake family aren't exactly interested in each other. They each simply left to survive, especially Yalini, who even left her two brothers in order to save herself (which doesn't mean she didn't care about them). We soon learn that Dheepan lost his entire family and all of his friends, which is what caused him to move away. He is mostly quiet and does what he can to get by and fit in. Illayal, the young girl, has no parents, so she accepts these parents the best that she can.

    They are not just adapting to their environment, but also adapting to each other. All of these characters have trouble connecting to others towards the beginning. Illayal is put in a special needs class in order to learn French and she is excluded by her classmates. When she is thrown out of school for fighting with a girl that excluded her, Yalini scolds her and yells at her. Illayal becomes frustrated since Yalini made her feel even more excluded, and she begins to show it by mocking her. Yalini freaks out and hits her, and later they have a conversation in which Illayal requests that she tries to treat her well. Dheepan gets a job and gets one for Yalini, but they quickly realize that the apartment buildings they live at are populated by a French gang. Yalini becomes fascinated with the gang leader, who frequently comes into the room she works in. While she feels isolated by all others, he is one that connects with her.

    Dheepan slowly begins to care more about Yalini and Illayal, but as his love for them grows, a commander of the army he was in while in the Sri Lankan civil war finds him and commands him to get guns for him. Dheepan refuses, and says the war is over for him, but he is then physically beat. A gang war erupts while Yalini and Illayal are coming home from her school, and Yalini decides to ditch. She does seem to care about Illayal and Dheepan, but she convinces herself that she doesn't, and reminds herself that the family is fake in order to leave to her sister in England, which seemed to be her original plan anyway. She understandably doesn't want to get caught in exactly what she just got out of. Dheepan finds her at the train station and physically forces her back to their home. When she is frisked by gang members, he throws the gang member on the ground. Dheepan begins to believe in the fantasy that this is his family so he doesn't have to accept the reality that his family is dead. He declares his own war against the gang by telling them that they can't fire past a certain line. He essentially assumes the role of a soldier that he did in Sri Lanka, and he does it to protect his new family. He wanted so badly for Yalini to care for him back, he begins using force to protect his "family" and force against Yalini in order to maintain it. Eventually, he realizes what he has done and how far he has come, and he simply leaves train tickets and money for Yalini to leave. This is what makes Yalini realize that Dheepan is a good man that has been altered by the war. His PTSD came back and his war mentality kicked in, which eventually builds to the intense finale, in which Dheepan mows through gang members in a trance like state, almost forgetting where he is and why by the end of it.

    This final, climactic scene is incredibly visceral and flawlessly directed. It is insane yet remains realistic and somewhat horrifying. When Dheepan is shot in the face, the cinematography mirrors his point of view: getting blurry and slow and then suddenly coming back to his determined and war like state. The camera tracks his feet as he pulls out a machete and walks past the white line, immediately bringing us into the realization of what is happening. The very end, I believe, is Dheepan's fantasy of having a normal, loving family. The focus on the shot of Yalini's hand touching the back of his head leads me to believe that this was a vision he had after his mass killing and his saving of Yalini.

    "Dheepan" slowly grips the viewer tighter and tighter, until one is completely engrossed by the film. The film is filled with complex and deeply troubled characters who simply can't escape their past, no matter how hard they try. The morality of the characters begins to become blurred, and no one is really the good guy in this film. Every actor in the film is fantastic, and the film is subtle in its writing. The characters slowly unravel themselves throughout the film and as this happens each moment with them is made more and more involving and unpredictable. The cinematography is fantastic and the way the film is shot gives it an air of realism while also adding nice stylistic touches to certain shots and certain scenes in the film. Certain subtleties such as Dheepan talking with people passing by as the camera pans up to show him fitting in, as well as the young girl mentioning going to a birthday party, and Dheepan sitting around with his co-workers, they all add up to give us a sense of the characters adapting to their environment and a passage of time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "In my hometown, people smile even when they fall on the ground. But here, if you laugh too much, others tend to regard you as fool, or that you are laughing at somebody." As the female protagonist, who is an illegal immigrant, said in this film, France seems to give the out-comers an impression of being 'othered' and put these people into kind of oppressed mental situation. Their expectation for France becomes an illusion, particularly when they're shrouded with special background which cannot be put into words for being sensational. In this case, Dheepan, used to be an 'terrorist' (to some extent), and all three members of his new 'family' entered the country illegally. As a result, they hide and drag out an ignoble existence, while still hold the bond between themselves as immigrants and their cultural identity as Indians. By integrating these meanings with cinematic narration (e.g. through character design), this film is equipped with much in-depth value and becomes a good material to talk about.

    Different from some other films made by Audiard, photographic properties in this one apparently look more delicate. If you compare Dheepan with The Beat That My Heart Skipped, such differences become obvious. I mean, the color tone, the props, settings within camera frames and even compositions and cuttings are quite carefully designed. This makes Dheepan being unified throughout the development of its story, holding and accumulating the power of expression just for the final 'explosion'. Fortunately, Audiard has the outstanding ability to make this accumulation worth, because you can tell from his style (i.e. always utilizing the power of silence, slow motion, and symbolizing) that he can manage expressions of 'stroooong' moments. Like him!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie wasn't what I expected at all, to be honest. Whereas I was expecting gritty and tense, the plot is actually very much about the three people who we learn to care so much about. A family uprooted to a foreign land where the only one who can help make sense of it is the child whose dealing with oh so much more.

    As a totem for some of the current travails facing the European Union project (tm) it's quite a pertinent and valuable piece that shows how much you need some luck and determination and application to make any progress in life. It makes you care for these simple people, who have similar hopes and dreams and worries and discontents as the rest of us.

    A clever use of juxtapositions underpins much of what we see, and whilst some have questioned the explosive climax, I think it ends things very well, although the sugar-coated conclusion did see me mark it down one point. What a movie though, what a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining approach to the modern world. Worth a watch.
  • ferguson-629 April 2016
    Greetings again from the darkness. Wars exist in many different forms. Some are over contested international boundaries, others are religious conflicts, while others are more personal and intimate. The stories of many refugees could be described as fleeing one type of war only to end up fighting a different kind. Such is the story of Dheepan.

    Jacques Audiard is one of the most exciting filmmakers working today. A Prophet (2009) and Rust and Bone (2012) are both compelling films, and though his latest may not be quite at that level, it's still full of intensity and personal drama. Mr. Audiard co-wrote the screenplay with Thomas Bidegain and Noe Dibre, and some of it is based on the remarkable real life story of lead actor Jesuthasan Antonythasan.

    Dheepan is a Tamli soldier who is so desperate to flee Sri Lanka that he teams with a woman and young girl he doesn't know to form what looks like a real family. By using passports of people killed during the war, the pre-fab family of three is issued visas to live in France. Dheepan gets a job as the caretaker for an apartment complex riddled with crime, violence and drugs – and learns to keep his mouth shut and eyes open.

    It's fascinating to watch these three people navigate their new life as they struggle with the language and a new culture. There are flashes of real family problems, but also the awkwardness of three whose only true bond is their escape from their previous life. Living in such close proximity means their true colors are bound to shine through no matter how much effort goes into the family façade.

    Jesuthasan Antonythasan (Dheepan) and Kalieaswari Srinivasan (as Yalini his wife) are both excellent and powerful in their roles despite being so inexperienced as actors. Their exchanges are believable, as is their disparate approach to the future. Ms. Srinivasan is especially strong in her scenes with local thug Brahim, played by Vincent Rottiers. The two have such an unusual connection … alternating between warm and frightening.

    Some have found fault with the final action sequence, but it's such a fitting turn of events given Dheepan's past … plus the camera work is outstanding. The film won the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and it's another notch in the belt of filmmaker Jacques Audiard. It's also a reminder that we can never really escape the past.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Dheapan is the film's titular hero, the battleground and a fabrication. A Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger takes up a strange woman and a nine-year-old orphan girl in order to escape the civil war into France. They assume the identity and passports of the dead Dheapan, his wife Yalini and his daughter. When we forget the lead characters' real names they become the ghosts, the afterlives, of their namesakes.

    The film opens on the woman, not Dheapan, as she scurries through a refugee camp looking for an orphan to "adopt" as her ticket out. She's assigned her "husband."

    Director Jacques Audriard follows the three principals' struggles to slip into the refugee's life in France. The new Dheapan works as a tenement block janitor and lands a caregiver job in a neighbouring block for Yalini. Her M Habib personifies PTS, for whatever cause. The three refugees struggle to learn rudimentary French and to find their way in a confusing culture. An emotional connection develops between the man and the woman but Yalini resists connecting to the little girl, considering her a means to escape not a responsibility.

    The refugee's difficulties in assimilation are dwarfed by the recidivist tensions they bring from their past. The janitor tries to resist his old rebel leader's demands he raise money to buy Lebanese arms for his shattered forces back home. The scene revives the war within Dheapan. Dheapan revives his old militance and violence when a drug gang war erupts between the two tenement blocks. As the incipient family seems about to be shattered by this war, Dheapan relents and returns Yalini's passport, which he'd commandeered to keep her from fleeing to London.

    The film is an extremely moving experience. All three leads command our empathy. When Yalini pleads on her cellphone for her passport she's in a long shot, framed in a small window with the "daughter" isolated in another box far right, two pockets of light in the black block.

    The film provides a comprehensive vision of contemporary refugees and their accommodation. There's a dignity in their urgent needs, their hunger for freedom and community, and a respect for their resourcefulness, as all three prove very capable and fine potential citizens. But there is also that baggage: the fury and violence they fled revives in their new setting.

    The film ends with an optimistic epilogue. London in the spring, the three are enjoying a family and neighbourhood afternoon party. Dheapan seems to be driving a cab and he has an infant child. In the last shot Yalini runs her ring-less left hand through his hair affectionately. The whole scene seems fake. Of course if we think it doesn't ring true we might well assume this very accomplished director wants us to think it doesn't ring true. Why would we think he screwed up now?

    The scene has a brightness and cheer unprecedented in this film, musically as well as visually. That is, it seems imported from another. Now, it takes a good while for an immigrant to get to drive a London cab. And we have seen nothing to bridge the characters' last scene in France and this one in London. If indeed the couple did marry there would be a ring on the woman's finger.

    Conclusion: that ending is not an event but a fantasy. It's the possibility that the shivered if not broken couple in France hold out as a possible dream they might yet realize. That bit of film fibbing tells perhaps another profound truth about the eternal refugee. Whatever the disappointments, however inescapable the violence and ineluctable their failures, they can always dream of yet another escape that might just — against all their experience — this time work.
  • sergelamarche17 November 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    The story and the acting is so good as to be believable. The immigrants trying to make it here are stunted by the crime gang they end up having to deal with. Good thriller with a bloody ending.
  • exerji-exerji17 November 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    Some reviewers, though generally content with much of the film, have been a bit too harsh in judging the climax.

    For instance, this comment: //In the last shot Yalini runs her ring-less left hand through his hair affectionately. The whole scene seems fake.//

    My 2 cents about the conclusion part: (1) Hindus - both men and women - don't wear wedding rings. There are certain other visual differentiators, mainly for women (a silver ring worn on fingers next to toe on both legs in both North and South India, a rich vermillion on forehead in North India) but gradually declining in urbanised environments. Equally, urban Indians end up aping some Western habits such as celebrating Valentine's Day with card/gifts, blowing birthday candles and indeed, using rings - but, it's not a norm yet. It's perfectly fine to show them without rings and make one conclude they're happily married without any of them wearing ring.

    (2) Yalini, the leading lady, informs at least a couple of times her relatives being settled in England. While she lacks the exit velocity from Sri Lanka (wherefrom none of her England relatives could help her), once she reaches that housing estate, she does realise she's bound to the fledgling household more as a moral responsibility (to the girl and the man who made it happen) than as her preferred choice. Thus, it's quite natural for the last scene of the movie showing her will having prevailed - to make another fresh start, having just escaped another strife-prone zone, albeit of a different kind.

    I thought Audiard had done the last shot brilliant - instead of letting sign boards announce one's in England (or a tiring sight of flight landing Heathrow!), he just shows a car(well,a taxi) that drives on 'wrong' side of the road! Viewers are quickly forced to connect the dots - of Yalini's stated preference for England and indeed her attempted escape once - and conclude they're in England.
  • "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!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film starts as a quite realistic piece about refugees in Paris and how live becomes shaped by crime and poverty. But the last minutes of the film spoiled it for me. When the family finally arrive in London. Everything is fine. They live in a fine house, no more poverty und no crime. I mean seriously. This is London with the second highest murder rate in the EU (after Brussels) mostly involving people with no English origin (as victims and offenders). Refugees are forced to work below the minimum wages and to live in abendoned industrial sites. Where from time to time get burned because of no fire regulations. Even the officiel buildings for accommodation are not safe. Remember the burning skyscraper? They still do not know how many people died there. So England is a different country but the same s... So what the the message of this: Go to England so France has not to deal with refugees?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's interesting that as France and other countries around the Western world become more diverse, we're seeing more films like this. Westerners are telling the stories of their own countries as well as other, distant and more foreign ones, told through the eyes of immigrants, refugees or their descendants. Many wouldn't know much about the Sri Lankan Civil War, or that they had a civil war, with one French character in the film not even knowing where Sri Lanka is. But now, the French have produced a Palme d' Or-winning film drawing on it.

    Dheepan is told from the perspective of the titular character, a Tamil warrior who comes to France as a caretaker and lives with people he knew there. They aren't actually a family, though they look like one. There's some trouble adjusting- he struggles with customs officials, to whom he tries to pass himself off as a peace activist, before admitting his real family died in the war. His adoptive daughter can't speak the language well at school, and reveals her old school was destroyed. She gets into a playground brawl. These struggles with adapting are probably more interesting than where the story goes, with the sudden action movie climax. Though much of the movie before then can be slow, there is something to like about it. Still, one comes away from Dheepan without feeling much of the wow factor. Not bad, though a weaker Palme d'Or.
  • A Sri Lankan Warrior, decides to leave his past and flew to France with a temporarily "made up" family.

    The movie opens with cremation of some warriors. The protagonist throws his uniform in the fire and takes up a civilian dress, that is the change in his life. He decides to say good bye to the warrior life, and takes up a normal life. And we see a young lady searching for a an orphan child in the refugee camps. She finds a little girl. Together, they get a new name, passport and life. Thus the protagonist's new name is "Dheepan", as per the passport of a deceased person. The fact is that, if they make a family, it is easier for them to migrate to the West.

    The "family" reach France, with some struggles and few problems finally they manage to settle down in a rural area of France. But, the place was notorious for criminal activities, gangsters and drug dealers. Dheepan gets a job as the caretaker of a building. The little girl was sent to the French school, she was trying to cop up with language and cultural barrier. The young lady was took a job as a cook and caretaker of an elderly man.

    Things where not very smooth, even in France. The tension between the protagonist and "family"; and the society; progress with the movie. The movie is always in tight frames to convey this suffocation. The scenes towards the climax is a worth watch. It was amazingly executed. There are some amazing shots in the movie, that is almost impossible.

    Jacques Audiard becomes again one of my favorite directors with this movie. A definitely must watch. Highly Recommended.
  • This movie resonates with current political and social debates in France in complicated and perplexing ways because while it does an excellent job of richly depicting the difficulties that newcomers to France might face -- problems related to the administration, problems with language, problems with finding satisfactory housing, and jobs, all of which makes for a tense and very engaging opening hour or so of the film -- its portrayal of the housing projects in the suburbs of Paris, where our characters end up, isn't so praiseworthy. It resorts to a clichéd and problematic presentation of these places being little more than no-law / "no-go" zones, a contrived setting that ultimately contributes to what we felt was a disappointing and frustrating ending for a filmmaker as good as Audiard.

    For a more detailed review of the film, please visit our eponymous web site.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Starting with absurdity, continuing as a Bildungsroman, developing into a vigilante film, wrapping up with a stereotypical immigrant success story negated by cinematic language that leaves it ambiguous whether this happy ending is dream or reality. Audiard has done the best synthesis of immigrant stories and the refugee experience.

    The tension between a killer-machine-turned soft-spoken janitor and relentless urban gangsters brings back the old wisdom on violence: those who fought in real wars never want violence back. On the other hand, those who are left on the margins of our society might develop an almost anachronistic volatility and a combative instinct. The latter might seem child-play as evidenced by the final elimination of thugs by the Tamil warrior, but the intricate relationship between the two forms of violence goes beyond the dramatic tensions and sticks in audience's head long after the film theatre lights up.

    The narrative and the language have few traces of insincerity or patronization, which is extremely surprising for its subject matter. Family as another subject matter softens the images full of blood and firearms.
  • Andy-29610 April 2016
    Sri Lanka, is a country that does not appear a lot in the international news, but it had a brutal civil war in the last two decades between its two main ethnic groups, the Sinhalese (who dominate the central Government) and the rebel Tamils. There was a peace settlement in 2009, and this is where this French movie begins. The protagonist is a Tamil guerrilla and we see him destroying his weapons along with his comrades and preparing to migrate to another country. In a refugee camp, she meets a woman and a young girl (they are not mother and daughter), and they decide they have better chance to get to Europe if they pretend to be a family. Eventually they get into France landing in a dilapidated housing project (in the so called banlieus) where immigrants (mostly Arabs) lives. He finds a job as the janitor in the building where they live, she makes some money by caring over an old person. If the protagonist was looking for peace in Europe, he finds himself now in a crime infested neighborhood where gangs fight each other. On the other hand, this is a place where his skills as a warrior might find value.

    I find the milieu believable and the story sometimes interesting, despite its unpleasantness, but I find hard to believe the central conceit of the story in which three unrelated people keep living together pretending to be a family long after this seems necessary to get into France. And I find the film at times ponderous and pretentious. The ending, full of gratuitous violence, is a major letdown. All these flaws are no fault of the mostly amateur actors, who do well considering the circumstances (I like the woman playing the false wife, Kalieaswari Srinivasan). A surprising winner of the 2015 Cannes film festival.
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