Rated: R for violence, language and brief sexuality/nudity. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: May 6, 2016 Released by: Sundance Selects
An unassuming, unhurried immigrant story often vituperative, yet compassionate again shows auteur Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone) in peak, trenchant form.
Dheepan is an understated, yet spirituous infusion which doesn't have the intricacies of A Prophet (a masterly Godfather-like saga). But, what Audiard expresses, while impressionistic at times from behind the camera, really impresses from the naturalistic way his thespians make the experience resonate. Especially from some early horrific, incinerated images which set things in motion.
The eponymous character strikingly rendered by Antonythasan Jesuthasan is a Sri Lanka (Tamil Tiger) civil war transplant in France who is able to leave by adopting a wife and daughter (Yalini and Illaynal) as his family and, subsequently, passports for them.
A new life and hope is on the horizon as Dheepan turns to caregiving and street vending of novelties in Paris while Yalini tends to an ill North African whose nephew happens to lead a major crime syndicate. And, Illaynal begins again with her education.
The filmmaking indicates the aforementioned style with an interesting contrast in lighting and filtering even through flash-backing to a hotter, more arid landscape. Cooler hues demonstrate the bleakness of the utilitarian's unit current locale with encroaching austerity on their doorstep.
Audiard incorporates some prior motifs of the familiarity of what keeps humanity from moving forward from past horrors with committed verisimilitude. It doesn't prepare an audience for what unfolds during the final act and, particularly, the concluding scene, which may be too upsetting and hard to fathom. Yet, there's something exhilaratingly wise and oddly humanistic given the lines drawn through integration in Dheepan which will definite have many discerning patrons conversing afterward.