DVD Review – Dheepan (2015)

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An army warrior from Sri Lanka is teamed up with a fake wife and daughter and gets a job as a caretaker in a housing estate just outside Paris. When he notices a hierarchy of criminals operating out of the estate he decides to do something about it.

A rather controversial winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Dheepan may not be as strong a cinema as past few recipients of the same honour but it nonetheless succeeds as an engrossing, absorbing & reflective drama that illustrates the plight of immigrants with unflinching honesty and is boosted substantially by outstanding performances from its leading cast.

Co-written & directed by Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust & Bone), Dheepan isn’t as enthralling as his finest work but it is still a powerful piece of work that’s completely devoted to its characters. Cinematography is effectively carried out, especially the fantastic use of sound and light. Also the sparing use of subtitles is brilliant (if someone isn’t supposed to understand someone, no subs are used). Some have found fault with the final action sequence, but it’s such a fitting turn of events given Dheepan‘s past … plus the camera work is outstanding.

The DVD includes a handful of special features. An audio commentary with Audiard and co-writer Noe Debre, it does get a little philosophical but it goes to show that Audiard is a smart man. A conversation with the 2, which, if not entirely needed as well as the commentary, is interesting. A few deleted scenes, with optional commentary, round off the disc. Although there is a really good scene I felt could have been included in the film, most of the scenes were deleted because Audiard felt like he was repeating himself, and It’s hard to disagree.

Dheepan is peak Audiard, in that it represents everything that makes him one of the most exciting forces in contemporary French cinema. It’s also a reminder that we can never really escape the past.

Peter Fletcher

Drama, World Cinema, Crime | France, 2015 | 15 |Studiocanal | 8th August 2016 (UK) | Dir.Jacques Audiard | Jesuthasan Antonythasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby, Vincent Rottiers, Faouzi Bensaïdi