The Three Rivers Film Festival last year screened “Dheepan”, several months before its national release. This powerful and absorbing film, which received the 2015 Palme d’Or, the top award at the Cannes Film Festival, shows its master director, Jacques Audiard (“A Prophet”), in peak form.
Dheepan is a Tamil fighter on the losing side of the Sri Lankan civil war. To be able to escape to a new life in France as a refugee, he has a woman and young girl pose as his family.
Portraying Dheepan, Jesuthasan Anthonythasan, has a similar background to his character. He fought as a child soldier for a Tamil liberation army until the age of 19. He fled to Thailand before reaching France In 1993 where he obtained political asylum. He has written novels, short stories, plays and essays.
“Dheepan” becomes a compelling family drama as the three strangers must adjust to a new life, living in close quarters to each other.
Performances are impressive, particularly from Kalieaswari Srinivasan as the “wife” who continually changes her feelings toward Dheepan. She is also unaware of how to treat her “daughter”, leading to emotional conflicts for the new “family”. Srinivasan has worked in theater In India. This is her first film.
Dheepan gets employment in a housing project overrun by criminals. The films builds an acute tension, leading to a gripping conclusion as Dheepan fights to keep the area safe and protect himself and his new “family”.