Dheepan Screen 28 articles



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  • At the awards press conference, a clueless Bangladeshi reporter asked the main actor, Jesuthasan Antonythasan, what he thought was better, winning the Palme d’Or or winning a war. He was shouted down by a rare consensus of the international press, but one can argue that that kind of distasteful comparison is in fact encouraged by Audiard’s Eurocentric logic, especially in the film’s action-movie climax wherein the war abroad is displaced onto the war at home.

  • There's a hallucinatory aspect to the film's sense of time. Multiple shots are framed in darkness only to reveal an animal or person slowly coming into focus. Audiard wants these moments to have a profound visual impact on the viewer, to build mood out of obscured and dreamlike imagery. Yet it has the opposite effect, instilling a sense of artificial tunnel vision in an otherwise gritty worldview.

  • A typically unpredictable career move by the prolific and varied Audiard following the unabashedly melodramatic romance “Rust and Bone” and the searing crime drama “A Prophet,” this almost entirely Tamil-language immigrant drama unfolds in solidly involving, carefully observed fashion for much of its running time, until it takes a sharp and heavy-handed turn into genre territory from which it never quite recovers.

  • Uncharacteristically for Audiard, there are a few puzzling ellipses in the filmmaking, and the ending feels false and unearned — we want the best for this makeshift family, but we have so much invested in their potential happiness that we don't just want it handed to us. Dheepan covers some pretty rough emotional terrain with sensitivity and even some humor, but its lapses are disappointing.

  • Colleagues who caught it then seemed to enjoy everything except the ending. Now that I’ve seen Dheepan, I get it, because this is a scrupulously naturalistic portrait of Sri Lankan immigrants in France that turns into a Bruce Willis action movie in its final minutes.

  • It’s a film of such limited, simple virtues that I find it mind-blowing that it received the Palme d’Or, which makes me think that there are other, more ideological reasons, and that the jury either involuntarily or willingly fulfilled the theme that Cannes gave out this year: that we should all care more about social injustice and the ecosystem.

  • A relatively minor film from an unexceptional filmmaker... This is not to say that Audiard’s latest film is particularly bad per se, more that it is a middling work, devoid of any remarkable features – and this, one would think, in the cauldron of hype that is Cannes, is what should have consigned it to a form of cinematic purgatory

  • What initially comes on like a less commercial and more risk-taking venture than Audiard’s Rust and Bone, ends up delivering the safer if genuine pleasures of a small-scale thriller in the guise of un film social. The film pays only lip service to the asylum-seeker problem and questions of cultural assimilation, which nevertheless furnish a novel backdrop and characters for Audiard to play with. There’s nothing shameful in any of this, but the ambitions of Dheepan are nonetheless pretty meager.

  • Jacques Audiard is up to his old tricks. Just as Un prophète, his 2009 art-house success, cynically recycled an admixture of motifs from old prison films cross-fertilized with a dollop of Scorsese-like pizazz and a superficial veneer of social commentary, Dheepan sheds a few crocodile tears for the plight of a burnt-out ex-Tamil Tiger before congealing into a tepid thriller.

  • In attempting to draw these problems into sharper focus, director Jacques Audiard reduces most of the complexity surrounding them, leaving the film struggling to overcome the burden of an over-simplified, moralizing setup. This is a shame, since Dheepan is impressive in other regards, central among them the stellar performances by its three nonprofessional leads.

  • Dheepan is a failure. It’s just a disappointment by Audiard’s high standards. It isn’t hair-raising and breathtaking like A Prophet, or fiercely elemental like Rust and Bone, or fevered and perverse like The Beat That My Heart Skipped. The sad truth is that it’s a little soft, a little too reluctant to kick open its characters’ doors.

  • The film ultimately seems to have little investment in portraying or elucidating the Sri Lankan Civil War... These characters are propelled by a desire to step out of their pasts and sprint towards a better future. Yet the film’s only preoccupations are with the present day. By consequence, the Sri Lankan Civil War remains in the abstract—a glaring miscalculation for a film that trades off Sri Lankan bodies with such ease.

  • Jacques Audiard’s misbegotten Palme D’Or winner Dheepan aspires to be a Taxi Driver for today’s Europe, but ends up as a crude cross between Death Wish and Ken Loach... Audiard has found success in translating the self-destructive male loners of 1970s American film into present-day France, but here, it comes across as laughable instead of troubling, mustering only a fraction of its Stateside forebears’ momentum and style.

  • Dheepan, in essence, functions like A Prophet in reverse: It's a sober drama about the immigrant experience that smuggles in a bloody drug thriller in the third act. This time, though, it feels like Audiard is sabotaging his own movie... What started as a piercing drama about refugees, rooted firmly in the ethnic crises that have plagued modern Paris, shifts into a cathartic melee that nearly tips into outright fantasy. One part of the film can't be reconciled with the other.

  • Dheepan is, for the large majority of its runtime, a satisfyingly even-handed and non-judgmental exploration of the immigrant experience... [But the final act] doesn’t merely bring with it a cumbersome tonal shift, but undoes a lot of the highly nuanced and enlightened political discourse from earlier on. It's doubly disappointing because everything before it was extremely impressive.

  • Audiard likes changing the movie he’s been making into something else. The Beat That My Heart Skipped was a gangster thriller that became a music-prodigy melodrama. A Prophet was a prison film that turned into a crime epic... Audiard’s sense of showmanship and his comfort with provocation make him fun to watch. He’s testing your morality — not frivolously, either. Still, that button-pushing can also make him exasperatingly arrogant. He doesn’t need to be right as long as he’s cool.

  • The movie doesn’t cohere as beautifully as a previous Audiard Cannes entry, “A Prophet,” but, he still holds you with performances and jolts of tenderness and violence. The ending of “Dheepan,” set in a pastoral British backyard, reads as a savage critique of France’s immigration policies.

  • It’s quite strong in terms of an outmoded form of realism that’s still classical, and organically it works in terms of recreating some form of fluidity of life. I believed in the characters, I believed in the story, even though it seems a little silly to talk in these terms. And I actually thought that the way he describes the suburban housing project, and life there is stylized but also well-documented.

  • ...All this is fine – but there’s more going on here. Despite its Palm, the film got some mixed reviews, criticised for going ‘off the rails’ into violent action – but in fact it has to go off the rails because the rules have changed now, even for European festival films. Dheepan is tinged with a helpless despair, a sense of refugees who may be too troubled to help even if a broken system cared enough to help them (which it doesn’t).

  • +

    Sight & Sound: Ginette Vincendeau
    April 01, 2016 | May 2016 Issue (pp. 60-61)

    ...With these reservations, Dheepan remains a powerful and memorable film. Dheepan is a complex, flawed and yet sympathetic hero who, like the character played by Tahar Rahim in the prison drama A Prophet (2009), credibly metamorphoses from underdog to winner. One may regret that, yet again, this takes the route of caricatured macho violence. Nevertheless, except in the shootout scene, the characters remain believable and affecting, thanks to superb performances by the three leads.

  • That sense of imbalance, the idea of the ground constantly shifting under these characters — and, by extension, the audience — plays to director Audiard's strengths, to the emotional intimacy of his camera and the urgency with which he relays immediate experience.

  • Dheepan is nearly a superb film, but its flaws are no easier to overlook a year after its premiere. Nevertheless, Dheepan is a pretty good Jacques Audiard film, and certainly a very ambitious one. It has a strong imaginative agenda, in the sense that Audiard is a director who likes to conjure up the idea of a specific real, or at least realistic, environment (the prison of A Prophet, the unglamorous hinterlands of the South of France in Rust and Bone) and explore it in vivid, immersive detail.

  • For a time the film settles into a character study, as their family act gradually becomes reality. The intimate scenes are lovely, such as when the little girl tries to explain to Yalini how a mother should act. Their building is eventually consumed by a drug war, and a late explosion of violence works better as metaphor than it does as logical drama. The remarkable performances from the central trio are what carries the film.

  • It too often seems like a vigilante psych evaluation that’s been left partially incomplete. That’s not enough, though, to stop Audiard’s film from being admirable on the whole—as a study of tenuous family dynamics, and as a humanist drama that brings home the sheer loneliness of the asylum seeker, it’s an arresting piece of work.

  • If we hadn't spent an hour and a half getting to know Dheepan and Yalini, watching them interact with each other and with "outsiders," if we hadn't been so immersed in their steep learning-curve in a new culture, the ending wouldn't jar. "Dheepan" is well worth seeing, in spite of that. See it for the performances. There you will find the whole story.

  • Alas, this curate’s egg of a Cannes competition ended up getting an awards ceremony of a similar off-beatness. There’s no question that Palme winner Dheepanis a superbly well-made and acted film, but what ought to have mitigated against it winning is its hugely unbalanced showoff ending.

  • The movie is an extension, and in some ways a combination, of the narratives in A Prophetand Rust and Bone. As with A Prophet, the hero of the story is an outsider, both his immediate surroundings and in France generally, who gradually takes back his agency by exacting revenge on people who've wronged him. And like Rust and Bone, Dheepan is a melodrama in which sudden plot shifts mirror the tumult of the protagonists' situations.

  • For all our hand-wringing... there are not many new European movies that take on the point of view of the outsider like this, with an air of seething apprehension. That’s the film’s ultimate political salience, in the sense of realigning the culture’s default ideas of itself, of seeing what we have wrought, the fringes of our globalized reality, as an inevitable, ever-expanding territory of the proles. Realism can do this, particularly in the hands of a filmmaker like Audiard.

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