Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan, Cannes Festival’s 2015 Palme d’Or winner, is Finally coming out in North America.
Dheepan is a Tamil freedom fighter from Sri Lanka who flees the civil war and goes to France, taking with him a woman and a little girl posing as his family, in order to claim asylum. Finding an apartment and a job in a tough parisian suburb, he works to build a new life but the daily violence surrounding them forces him to reconnect with warrior instincts to protect those he wishes to become his kin.
Since his 1994 powerful debut, See How They Fall (Regarde les Hommes Tomber), writer-director Audiard has an impressive and unique award winning resume. With Dheepan we get all of his strong usual signature, deeply rooted within the codes of film genres, like Film Noir for instance, but within a contain dramatic use of contemporary settings we usually see in social or political dramas. This kind of cleverly made opportunism made it, in some circles, falsely dubbed as a Right-wing propaganda disguised as a “social film”, which is ridiculous.
The truth is Audiard is a gifted filmmaker in every aspect of filmmaking and a great storyteller without any false notes. He is capable of artistic achievement within the boundaries of what’s usually appealing to audiences by combining contemporary dramatic subject with edgy clever twists. It is precisely this combination that makes his personal signature. As always it is well written and the whole Build up of what is in fact a vengeance movie is smart. Audiard and co-writer Thomas Bidegain deliberately self contained in the first part, evolve to take us exactly where Audiard wants us to go by carefully handling the outcome. Their display of timing, where they obviously know when it is acceptable to over doing it, is first class popular cinema writing. Some colleagues told me about the epilogue (and I won’t spoil it here)that they hated it, but again it’s plain logic regarding Audiard 25 years of using the codes of film genres. It’s film making so much in control of his trade that you get the impression that what was in his head is exactly what came to life on screen. Also, because some filmmakers nowadays have the best intentions or something dramatic to expose we close our eyes on a lot of improvised and amateur-like material. But Audiard is always deeply in control of all the technical aspects that match his ambitions. Great editor Juliette Welfing is back and the continuity linking this film to the others he made is intact. Also impressive is the welcoming of fresh new talents, namely composer Nicolas Jaar (replacing longtime collaborator Alexandre Desplats who probably has too many engagements in Hollywood) and cinematographer Eponine Momenceau. They are in with impressive work and in both case for a first time feature.
To top all this, as if it wasn’t enough, his trio of comedians are also great newcomers. Jesuthasan Antonythasan- Kalieaswari Srinivasan –Claudine Vinasithamby with a combined filmography next to nothing (Anthonythasan appeared briefly in an indian film) are part of a very strong casting.
Dheepan is simply another great film by a great filmmaker.