DHEEPAN (2015)

Directed By: Jacques Audiard 
Written By: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain & Noe Debre 
Cinematography By: Eponine Momenceau 
Editor: Juliette Welfling 

Cast: Jesuthasan Antonythasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby, Vincent Rottiers
Marc Zinga Dheepan is a Tamil freedom fighter, a Tiger. In Sri Lanka, the Civil War is reaching its end, and defeat is near. Dheepan decides to flee, taking with him two strangers – a woman and a little girl – hoping that they will make it easier for him to claim asylum in Europe. Arriving in Paris, the ‘family’ moves from one temporary home to another until Dheepan finds work as the caretaker of a run-down housing block in the suburbs. He works to build a new life and a real home for his ‘wife’ and his ‘daughter’, but the daily violence he confronts quickly reopens his war wounds, and Dheepan is forced to reconnect with his warrior’s instincts to protect the people he hopes will become his true family. 


The first French film shot nearly entirely in the Tamil language. In fact The first film in Tamil language and with Tamil lead actors to win the Palme d’Or.

The film involves a former soldier is suffering from PTSD. Tries to start over with a new identity and a fake family.

Not as violent or action-packed as once thought and advertised. As mostly there are scenes of action but we see it mainly from his point of view and more towards the end. Even though throughout the film the characters are surrounded by dangerous characters and hear stories of violence in their new home and the one they are coming from.

As the film moves along it becomes a slow-burning vigilante tale with heart. As it seems here thankfully the film considers the characters first and the action is secondary.

Once the action starts what a glorious sequence it is. The film is full of vivid handheld camera work which makes some scenes more dramatic than one would think.

The film focuses on him and his makeshift wife mostly. Their relationship and how it actually blossoms purely out of survival at first then slowly becomes affectionate. While they also raise an orphan girl who is more in the background and used more to help them get sympathy but is the chain that binds them together. As they have escaped war-torn Sri Lanka only to move into and work in a gang filled Parisian housing development (projects)

She slowly gets close to the son of the elderly man she takes care of, the son is a gang leader who is under house arrest. So that she is constantly in the middle of the current war going on in the streets. 

Everything goes good until the third act with the reemergence of an old general who has lost it. He seems to have cursed them as old nightmares come to the forefront in the new form of continuous random violence until DHEEPAN decides to take a stand. As he couldn’t before, forming a peace block.

The film is pretty straight forward which is why it might seem like I am just telling the plot and scenes. Just as with his precious film director Jacques Audiard has us with the characters every step of the way. Right up in their faces.

The film is an immigrant story that doesn’t solely focus on being in a new country and trying to assimilate more dealing with the troubled past of the characters as they try to settle. Starting a new life when virtually everything is new and different. Especially as most of the leading cast had never acted in a film before. So it gives the film unmannered performances that make it feel all the more natural and real.

It’s the anti – BROOKLYN movie (which is a romantic tale of an Irish immigrant in New York on the 1950s)

Not much happens but much is felt though at times the film seems to try to hide it’s hand. Even as one thing really particularly shocking happens in the film.

After his more provocative films. He plays this one pretty straight other than turning the camera in characters and cultures usually not seen on the big screen.

Happy for the ending as it is rare for these types of tales to end positively and with promise. They always seem to be downtrodden, sacrificial, or compromised.

Grade: B+