Sri Lanka. Three strangers pose as a family in order to obtain fake passports and emigrate to France: a man named Dheepan (Jesuthasan Anthonythasan), a woman, Yalini (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and a young girl, Illayaal (Claudine Vinasithamby). Having arrived, they keep up the charade to avoid discovery but, despite their initial resistance, they begin to develop very real bonds.
Dheepan addresses the very current issue of immigration, approaching it from the inside out, sensitively and sincerely. The ordeals suffered by Dheepan and his new family shed light on those who leave their home countries in search of something better, only to continue living hand-to-mouth, but in an alien environment where they cannot communicate.
The trio finally find some semblance of stability when they move into a housing complex in a poor suburb of Paris, where Dheepan will work as a handyman. As an ex-soldier, who believes he may finally be free of his tragic and violent past, Dheepan soon finds himself in the midst of a different kind of war zone: violent gangs rule the neighbourhood.
With an especially absorbing performance from Anthonythasan, this film is a testament to the strength and endurance of the human spirit. Dheepan gives a voice to those who are marginalised by society, all too often reduced to mere statistics. French director Jacques Audiard approaches the story with great humanity, retaining a consistent sense of intimacy between viewer and characters with close-up camera work, and yet never truly allowing us full access to the characters’ emotional landscape, making them all the more fascinating.
Dheepan does not yet have a UK release date.
Watch a clip from Dheepan here: