Dheepan ★★★½

To address the elephant in the room: No, “Dheepan“ probably shouldn't have won the Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival. An understandably controversial choice at the time, it wasn't even the festival's best feature about the psychic perils of migrating into central Europe (that honor goes to Jonas Carpignano's studied and unflinching "Mediterranea," which premiered as part of the International Critics' Week program). For director Jacques Audiard to snag his industry's greatest prize for "Dheepan" instead of his greater earlier efforts, "The Beat that My Heart Skipped" and "A Prophet," is roughly tantamount to Martin Scorsese landing the Best Director Oscar for "The Departed" instead of "Taxi Driver" or "Goodfellas."

And yet, "Dheepan" is peak Audiard, in that it represents everything that makes him one of the most exciting forces in contemporary French cinema — both the good and the bad. It's almost too perfect a fit for a filmmaker who exclusively tells stories about people who suffer their way to freedom.

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