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New Release Review - DHEEPAN

A Tamil immigrant finds his violent past following him on a tough Parisian estate.



Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Jacques Audiard

Starring: Jesuthasan Antonythasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby



Dheepan promises a ripped from the headlines examination of the immigrant experience, but ultimately devolves into a generic vigilante thriller. It's a Michael Winner movie for the cheese and wine set.



If you're after a movie about Chicago's particular pizza style, Dheepan will disappoint. That said, if you're expecting a film worthy of the Palme d'Or, which Jacques Audiard's film scooped last May, you'll probably be just as let down. Dheepan is the latest mediocre work from arguably France's most over-rated contemporary filmmaker.


The set-up is as tired as they come - an immigrant escapes a war-zone only to find himself fighting a new battle in a western city - and torn from the backs of a thousand VHS sleeves ("All he wanted was a quiet life, but they pushed him too far!"). Dheepan is a Michael Winner movie (it owes a considerable amount to Death Wish 3) for the cheese and wine set.

The titular character (played by former child soldier Antonythasan Jesuthasan) is a Tamil Tiger fighter who decides he's had enough of violence. Gathering together a fake family - 'wife' Yalini (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and 'daughter' Illayaal (Claudine Vinasithamby) - Dheepan escapes Sri Lanka and heads to France, where the trio claim asylum. The 'family' are housed in a council estate from hell in the Parisian suburbs, where Dheepan is given a caretaking job while Yalini becomes a carer for the senile father of the drug dealer (Vincent Rottiers) who runs the estate. All Dheepan wants is a quiet life, but you guessed it, they push him too far.


In the midst of the greatest immigration crisis Europe has ever seen, Dheepan's premise - Think the Sri Lankan civil war is bad? Try the Parisian suburbs for size - seems incredibly naive, but it's the lack of depth to Audiard's film that makes it little more than a polished entry in the 'hoody horror' genre. We've seen dozens of low budget British movies explore this theme, and this Gallic take stands out only on a technical level. The central character is practically a Charles Bronson cypher, and Jesuthasan even bears a resemblance to the cult action star.


Admittedly, the three Sri Lankan actors deliver impressive performances which manage to keep us interested even after we figure out the movie is headed towards a predictable conclusion. Dheepan promises a ripped from the headlines examination of the immigrant experience, but ultimately devolves into a generic vigilante thriller.
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