One year after winning the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the gripping “Dheepan” opens in limited release in the United States. Starring Anthonythasan Jesuthasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby and Vincent Rottiers, “Dheepan” tracks a makeshift immigrant family settling in France. This intense, searing drama is the seventh outing for French writer/director Jacques Audiard.

From acclaimed director Jacques Audiard

Award-winning filmmaker, Jacques Audiard continues his roll of successful films with his latest “Dheepan.” Twice Audiard has won both the Cesar and BAFTA Awards for Best Films with his earlier “The Beat That My Heart Skipped” (2005) and “A Prophet” (2010).

Critically acclaimed “Rust and Bone” followed in 2012 with Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. In addition to winning the Palme d’Or, “Dheepan was also nominated for nine Cesar Awards.

An immigrant drama

“Dheepan” opens in the days following the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka. Dheepan (Jesuthasan), a former soldier, tries to flee the violence of his country by seeking asylum in France. To do this, Dheepan assumes a new identity, which includes meeting a “fake” wife, Yalini (Srinivasan) and orphan daughter, Illayaal (Vinasithamby). Together this sham family escapes to the Parisian suburbs.

After an assortment of odd jobs, Dheepan takes a job as a caretaker for his apartment complex that is populated with gangs who run the neighborhood. Trying to stay clear or the dangerous elements, Dheepan and his family try to assimilate in their new life without missteps.

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But when Yalini takes a job tending to an older man whose charismatic, criminal son Brahim (Rottiers) has returned, events push Dheepan’s family to the brink. Has this family escaped one set of brutal events only to be faced with violence again?

“Dheepan” reflects actor Anthonythasan Jesuthasan’s early life

Director Audiard and his fine cast propel this intensely moving yet violent narrative. In his first acting role, Jesuthasan’s stunning performance as Dheepan is a revelation, especially when considering his past. As a boy, Jesuthasan had been a former boy soldier in Sri Lanka for the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. At age 19, he escaped to Thailand before obtaining asylum in France four years later. Like Dheepan, Jesuthasan too worked odd jobs before becoming a novelist and playwright.

“Dheepan” is a riveting look at an immigrant drama handled with skill by filmmaker Jacques Audiard and his exceptional cast.

 

“Dheepan” is 114 minutes, Not Rated, and in French with English Subtitles.