Dheepan ★★★★

TIFF 2015 – film #5 : Dheepan

Reason for pick: Director Jacques Audiard – The Prophet, Rust and Bone

Director Jacques Audiard finally captures the big prize with this year’s outing about a group of Tamil refugees fleeing to France. My only issue is that I don’t think this is the film he should have been rewarded for.

Make no mistake, Dheepan is expertly made, and has all of the gritty visual characteristics of his previous works that I’ve seen; A Prophet and Rust and Bone, and certainly has the same well-paced timing and dramatic arc. It absolutely has incredible performances by its Tamil non-professional acting leads; Jesuthasan Antonythasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, and Claudine Vinasithamby. It skillfully observes the themes of family, and the violence that often tears them apart in war torn countries. What’s my issue then? It seems manufactured.

It’s getting to the point where I think if I was thrown into the middle of an Audiard film, I would recognize the style. That isn’t a bad thing; many directors I love have their trademarks, but here I can’t help but feel it makes Dheepan feel manufactured rather than created. Plot points that were completely predictable, unnecessary complications that seemed added only for dramatic tension, and a cookie-cutter ending that I felt betrayed the film, and bore little resemblance to the previous films characters catharsis. I get the sinking feeling that it was crafted to be a crowd pleaser.

Dheepan is certainly a great film, it’s just not as great as what I was expecting based on what I had seen come before.

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