Dheepan ★★★½

This 2015 Palme d’Or-winning film by celebrated French director Jacques Audiard is really not that bad. Aside from its timeliness, Dheepan is a well-crafted, and powerfully-acted drama about the immigrant experience and the assimilation that comes with it. However, Dheepan feels a non-Audiard film more like a mainstream output even if it wallows on the same themes that the director has been known for: marginalized characters, outsiders, crime, and social injustices. The reason for this is its disappointing finale and how Audiard pursued a ridiculous Hollywood-style ending.

Dheepan is familiar juggling the dynamics of the immigrant experience in France. It centers on three Sri Lankan refugees who pretended to be a family in a chaotic French town after leaving their war, poverty-stricken homeland. The film is quite affecting in dealing with the emotional and psychological burdens by each characters. Their experiences feels authentic and urgent even if the narrative turns in a predictable manner. It’s just sad that there’s so many people in the world trying to leave their chaotic land for a change and end up being violated and harassed in their newfound hope.

The authenticity of the film is brought by the powerful performances by actors Jesuthasan Antonythasan, and Kalieaswari Srinivasan. Anthonythasan is actually really good here, playing a mentally-tortured war shooter whose state of mind is delicate and full of sadness. Srinivasan’s arc is more palpable and better than the former, situating her aspirations in life with clear-eyed sensitivity and clarity.

Overall, Dheepan has some really great moments, but let me down because of its ending and somehow uninspired direction from Audiard. Not his best work, but still a recommendable film from the French master himself.

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