Dheepan

This is what perfection looks like


Dheepan

  • This is what perfection looks like

Dheepan

  • This is what perfection looks like


Rated

N/A

Starring

Antonythasan Jesuthasan
Kalieaswari Srinivasan
Claudine Vinasithamby
Vincent Rottiers
Marc Zinga

Written by

Jacques Audiard
Thomas Bidegain
Noé Debré

Directed by

Jacques Audiard




What to Expect

It’s not always that you get to watch an excellently made film. And that primarily forms most of my justification for looking so eagerly forward to the Dubai International Film Festival.

Dheepan, obviously then, was definitely going to be one of probably many reasons why I so badly wanted to be here. The trailer never seemed to reveal much, and if anyone’s ever followed only a fragment of director Jacques Audiard’s filmography, they’d agree with my excitement.

And I really thought I was prepared for the film as I went in to watch it. Sometimes, however, the things that we least expect take precedence to our plans, if only to pleasantly surprise us through the happening.

And that’s exactly what Audiard’s film ended up being to me: the pleasantly unexpected.

What’s it About?

Nearing the last days of Sri Lanka’s Civil War, Sivadhasan (Antonythasan Jesuthasan) callously prepares to escape.  Bringing together a woman (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and a child (Claudine Vinasithamby), he – along with his unwitting accomplices – plan to escape to France by donning the identities of a dead family that almost nearly matches their physical description, in hopes of starting life with a clean slate.

Violence, and the past, however, have a very nasty way of catching up with you. And of course, if doesn’t seem to let go of them as it downs that they’re in an incredibly violent neighborhood – a ticking time bomb that’s waiting for a trigger to blow everything apart.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Worn out by Violence

Worn out by Violence

Cinematography is more than just pretty, well composited frames. If used as a tool, the direction of moving photography almost always seems to have the power to help in telling a story. Take, for example, the opening of the film. We’re introduced to the ravaged surroundings by a wide shot of the story’s location. Aptly cutting to a mid-shot, viewers are revealed the desolate, hopeless faces of the people standing beside it. After lingering for just a bit, the film cuts to a close up of its protagonist on the far right, offset appropriately by the burning fire on the left side of the frame.

The close-up seems to vocalize a rather strong symbol: the protagonist is pushed to a corner, where as he looks at the perpetrators that have destroyed him, he can only exude an uncannily hopeless form of callousness. Cinematographer Eponine Momenceau seems to understand both Audiard’s film and his protagonist; it’s a prime reason why her attempts at imploring the audience to understand his loss through the rather symbolic visual cues make a strong mark. Tie that in with some of Juliette Welfling’s winning edit decisions and Nicolas Jaar’s brilliant soundtrack, and you’ve got a certain rhythm throughout the film that matches the narrative beautifully. It’s raw and not entirely structured, but this rhythm is what makes the film sharply unique. It’s what makes you a part of it without that extra effort of formulaic manipulation.

That rhythm, in its entirety, is what Dheepan really is all about. It makes you feel its characters’ urgent need of escapism. There’s a deep connection viewers are able to make with the people they watch on screen. Audiard and his collaborative writers make a strong case for what is revealed to be symptoms of post-traumatic stress. It is undiagnosed, and may not be explicitly spoken about in the film, but there are so many obvious signs of it in the second half that the writers have left open with good measure. That isn’t to say they’re milking it at all, however. Audiard has, in fact, used it as a rather brilliant tool to create an atmosphere of suffocation within viewers. Such is how viewers might feel about the male protagonist’s trauma that they have a chance of genuinely cringing at the rather painful unfolding of events by the film’s end.

Of businessmen and survivors

Of businessmen and survivors

That is – and I very strongly say this, at the risk of repeating a point – Audiard is not out to manipulate in the way many biopics do. Should he have wanted so, he’d have stuck to a classic narrative with French as the main language all along. The entire film runs mostly in the characters’ mother tongue: Tamil. Additionally, their arcs have an excellent buildup. Everyone you’re supposed to notice in Dheepan has a towering internal conflict. They try to put up a façade, but by the end of it all, viewers will notice how much the violence humans keep running away from affect them personally when it continues to stare them in their faces.

There’s a certain stickler I can see potential viewers having of the movie: by its end, we see a convenience in conflict resolution; quite off the rather progressive tone of the film. Abrupt that it may be, it is, however, a pretty symbolic end – you pick up the pieces and move on in life sometimes. Furthermore, it marks a perfect conclusion to another less-spoken thread on this review thus far: interpersonal relationships. One thing that was worrying me was whether the progressive closeness of the three main characters of this film would be a part of a checklist; a set pattern we’ve come to witness about progressive evolution of relationships. The evolution here is definitely present, but there’s an added layer of organicity to it all. When Yalini talks to Sivadasan at a kitchen coffee-table in their apartment, there’s an establishment of how naturally they’ve gone from tension to acceptance.

And they’re only talking about something as insipid as jokes. They’re not Jesse and Celine, but they still have the power to draw you into their lives simply because of how unapologetically themselves they are.

To Perform or Not to Perform

The other side of making ends meet

The other side of making ends meet

For that kind of range, one must require performers that are able to walk the rather dangerous tightrope of the complicated characters they play. Antonythasan Jesuthasan (Sengadal; English; The Dead Sea), however, makes it look so effortless. It might probably be the history he shares with the character — there are many parallels — but it is another thing that he’s made his history a weapon; he’s brought it out in him to creatively liberate himself through this character. Kalieaswari Srinivasan is brilliant. Her subdued nature perfectly balances out the urgency she portrays, and each of her emotions rings a bell in your head. There’s a rather tellingly relatable thread her performance weaves through the film. Claudine Vinasithamby is pretty great. To hold herself throughout the towering performances of the leads is a sensational achievement, and (even though she’s given a justifiably shorter role) she owns it. Vincent Rottiers plays a rather fascinating character. Brahim is flawed, complicated and has more than one type of emotion running through his brain. He works against the law, but he has a whole set of emotions and a history only he knows. Rottiers achieves that silent emotion — he has a lot of fantastic dialogue in the movie — through his body language.

Worth it?

I feel blessed to have caught Dheepan this year for more reasons than one. First and foremost, let us, for the love of authenticity, duly credit director Jacques Audiard, who — for someone who isn’t from Sri Lanka — makes a genuine attempt to push against the wave of stereotypes when it could possibly come to people of the region (or the region itself). The kind of people you’re witness to are real, grounded people who, like a whole many people around the world, speak their own native language. Secondly, Audiard makes sure the kind of trauma shown on screen does in no way reflect mainstream movie depiction of trauma. And thirdly, along with his terrific team, he makes sure the entire cinematic experience of the film leaves a haunting after-taste; one that doesn’t easily go away.

Dheepan is a film that is sure, and has an immense respect for both craftsmanship in cinema and authenticity in realistic storytelling. And if nothing else, it holds viewers’ attention for every single moment of its hundred-and-nine-minute runtime. If that cannot justify why I consider it one of the best films I’ve caught this year, nothing else will.

Consensus: 5 Stars
The Elite League
About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Watch the trailer

We’re viral

Like UsFollow Us


Rated

N/A

Starring

Antonythasan Jesuthasan
Kalieaswari Srinivasan
Claudine Vinasithamby
Vincent Rottiers
Marc Zinga

Written by

Jacques Audiard
Thomas Bidegain
Noé Debré

Directed by

Jacques Audiard




What to Expect

It’s not always that you get to watch an excellently made film. And that primarily forms most of my justification for looking so eagerly forward to the Dubai International Film Festival.

Dheepan, obviously then, was definitely going to be one of probably many reasons why I so badly wanted to be here. The trailer never seemed to reveal much, and if anyone’s ever followed only a fragment of director Jacques Audiard’s filmography, they’d agree with my excitement.

And I really thought I was prepared for the film as I went in to watch it. Sometimes, however, the things that we least expect take precedence to our plans, if only to pleasantly surprise us through the happening.

And that’s exactly what Audiard’s film ended up being to me: the pleasantly unexpected.

What’s it About?

Nearing the last days of Sri Lanka’s Civil War, Sivadhasan (Antonythasan Jesuthasan) callously prepares to escape.  Bringing together a woman (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and a child (Claudine Vinasithamby), he – along with his unwitting accomplices – plan to escape to France by donning the identities of a dead family that almost nearly matches their physical description, in hopes of starting life with a clean slate.

Violence, and the past, however, have a very nasty way of catching up with you. And of course, if doesn’t seem to let go of them as it downs that they’re in an incredibly violent neighborhood – a ticking time bomb that’s waiting for a trigger to blow everything apart.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Worn out by Violence

Worn out by Violence

Cinematography is more than just pretty, well composited frames. If used as a tool, the direction of moving photography almost always seems to have the power to help in telling a story. Take, for example, the opening of the film. We’re introduced to the ravaged surroundings by a wide shot of the story’s location. Aptly cutting to a mid-shot, viewers are revealed the desolate, hopeless faces of the people standing beside it. After lingering for just a bit, the film cuts to a close up of its protagonist on the far right, offset appropriately by the burning fire on the left side of the frame.

The close-up seems to vocalize a rather strong symbol: the protagonist is pushed to a corner, where as he looks at the perpetrators that have destroyed him, he can only exude an uncannily hopeless form of callousness. Cinematographer Eponine Momenceau seems to understand both Audiard’s film and his protagonist; it’s a prime reason why her attempts at imploring the audience to understand his loss through the rather symbolic visual cues make a strong mark. Tie that in with some of Juliette Welfling’s winning edit decisions and Nicolas Jaar’s brilliant soundtrack, and you’ve got a certain rhythm throughout the film that matches the narrative beautifully. It’s raw and not entirely structured, but this rhythm is what makes the film sharply unique. It’s what makes you a part of it without that extra effort of formulaic manipulation.

That rhythm, in its entirety, is what Dheepan really is all about. It makes you feel its characters’ urgent need of escapism. There’s a deep connection viewers are able to make with the people they watch on screen. Audiard and his collaborative writers make a strong case for what is revealed to be symptoms of post-traumatic stress. It is undiagnosed, and may not be explicitly spoken about in the film, but there are so many obvious signs of it in the second half that the writers have left open with good measure. That isn’t to say they’re milking it at all, however. Audiard has, in fact, used it as a rather brilliant tool to create an atmosphere of suffocation within viewers. Such is how viewers might feel about the male protagonist’s trauma that they have a chance of genuinely cringing at the rather painful unfolding of events by the film’s end.

Of businessmen and survivors

Of businessmen and survivors

That is – and I very strongly say this, at the risk of repeating a point – Audiard is not out to manipulate in the way many biopics do. Should he have wanted so, he’d have stuck to a classic narrative with French as the main language all along. The entire film runs mostly in the characters’ mother tongue: Tamil. Additionally, their arcs have an excellent buildup. Everyone you’re supposed to notice in Dheepan has a towering internal conflict. They try to put up a façade, but by the end of it all, viewers will notice how much the violence humans keep running away from affect them personally when it continues to stare them in their faces.

There’s a certain stickler I can see potential viewers having of the movie: by its end, we see a convenience in conflict resolution; quite off the rather progressive tone of the film. Abrupt that it may be, it is, however, a pretty symbolic end – you pick up the pieces and move on in life sometimes. Furthermore, it marks a perfect conclusion to another less-spoken thread on this review thus far: interpersonal relationships. One thing that was worrying me was whether the progressive closeness of the three main characters of this film would be a part of a checklist; a set pattern we’ve come to witness about progressive evolution of relationships. The evolution here is definitely present, but there’s an added layer of organicity to it all. When Yalini talks to Sivadasan at a kitchen coffee-table in their apartment, there’s an establishment of how naturally they’ve gone from tension to acceptance.

And they’re only talking about something as insipid as jokes. They’re not Jesse and Celine, but they still have the power to draw you into their lives simply because of how unapologetically themselves they are.

To Perform or Not to Perform

The other side of making ends meet

The other side of making ends meet

For that kind of range, one must require performers that are able to walk the rather dangerous tightrope of the complicated characters they play. Antonythasan Jesuthasan (Sengadal; English; The Dead Sea), however, makes it look so effortless. It might probably be the history he shares with the character — there are many parallels — but it is another thing that he’s made his history a weapon; he’s brought it out in him to creatively liberate himself through this character. Kalieaswari Srinivasan is brilliant. Her subdued nature perfectly balances out the urgency she portrays, and each of her emotions rings a bell in your head. There’s a rather tellingly relatable thread her performance weaves through the film. Claudine Vinasithamby is pretty great. To hold herself throughout the towering performances of the leads is a sensational achievement, and (even though she’s given a justifiably shorter role) she owns it. Vincent Rottiers plays a rather fascinating character. Brahim is flawed, complicated and has more than one type of emotion running through his brain. He works against the law, but he has a whole set of emotions and a history only he knows. Rottiers achieves that silent emotion — he has a lot of fantastic dialogue in the movie — through his body language.

Worth it?

I feel blessed to have caught Dheepan this year for more reasons than one. First and foremost, let us, for the love of authenticity, duly credit director Jacques Audiard, who — for someone who isn’t from Sri Lanka — makes a genuine attempt to push against the wave of stereotypes when it could possibly come to people of the region (or the region itself). The kind of people you’re witness to are real, grounded people who, like a whole many people around the world, speak their own native language. Secondly, Audiard makes sure the kind of trauma shown on screen does in no way reflect mainstream movie depiction of trauma. And thirdly, along with his terrific team, he makes sure the entire cinematic experience of the film leaves a haunting after-taste; one that doesn’t easily go away.

Dheepan is a film that is sure, and has an immense respect for both craftsmanship in cinema and authenticity in realistic storytelling. And if nothing else, it holds viewers’ attention for every single moment of its hundred-and-nine-minute runtime. If that cannot justify why I consider it one of the best films I’ve caught this year, nothing else will.

Consensus: X Stars
Impressive!
About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Watch the trailer

We’re viral

Like UsFollow Us

Cast Antonythasan Jesuthasan
Kalieaswari Srinivasan
Claudine Vinasithamby
Director Jacques Audiard
Consensus: 5 Stars
The Elite League

What to Expect

Of separation and togetherness

Of separation and togetherness

It’s not always that you get to watch an excellently made film. And that primarily forms most of my justification for looking so eagerly forward to the Dubai International Film Festival.

Dheepan, obviously then, was definitely going to be one of probably many reasons why I so badly wanted to be here. The trailer never seemed to reveal much, and if anyone’s ever followed only a fragment of director Jacques Audiard’s filmography, they’d agree with my excitement.

And I really thought I was prepared for the film as I went in to watch it. Sometimes, however, the things that we least expect take precedence to our plans, if only to pleasantly surprise us through the happening.

And that’s exactly what Audiard’s film ended up being to me: the pleasantly unexpected.

What’s it About?

Nearing the last days of Sri Lanka’s Civil War, Sivadhasan (Antonythasan Jesuthasan) callously prepares to escape.  Bringing together a woman (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and a child (Claudine Vinasithamby), he – along with his unwitting accomplices – plan to escape to France by donning the identities of a dead family that almost nearly matches their physical description, in hopes of starting life with a clean slate.

Violence, and the past, however, have a very nasty way of catching up with you. And of course, if doesn’t seem to let go of them as it downs that they’re in an incredibly violent neighborhood – a ticking time bomb that’s waiting for a trigger to blow everything apart.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Worn out by Violence

Worn out by Violence

Cinematography is more than just pretty, well composited frames. If used as a tool, the direction of moving photography almost always seems to have the power to help in telling a story. Take, for example, the opening of the film. We’re introduced to the ravaged surroundings by a wide shot of the story’s location. Aptly cutting to a mid-shot, viewers are revealed the desolate, hopeless faces of the people standing beside it. After lingering for just a bit, the film cuts to a close up of its protagonist on the far right, offset appropriately by the burning fire on the left side of the frame.

The close-up seems to vocalize a rather strong symbol: the protagonist is pushed to a corner, where as he looks at the perpetrators that have destroyed him, he can only exude an uncannily hopeless form of callousness. Cinematographer Eponine Momenceau seems to understand both Audiard’s film and his protagonist; it’s a prime reason why her attempts at imploring the audience to understand his loss through the rather symbolic visual cues make a strong mark. Tie that in with some of Juliette Welfling’s winning edit decisions and Nicolas Jaar’s brilliant soundtrack, and you’ve got a certain rhythm throughout the film that matches the narrative beautifully. It’s raw and not entirely structured, but this rhythm is what makes the film sharply unique. It’s what makes you a part of it without that extra effort of formulaic manipulation.

That rhythm, in its entirety, is what Dheepan really is all about. It makes you feel its characters’ urgent need of escapism. There’s a deep connection viewers are able to make with the people they watch on screen. Audiard and his collaborative writers make a strong case for what is revealed to be symptoms of post-traumatic stress. It is undiagnosed, and may not be explicitly spoken about in the film, but there are so many obvious signs of it in the second half that the writers have left open with good measure. That isn’t to say they’re milking it at all, however. Audiard has, in fact, used it as a rather brilliant tool to create an atmosphere of suffocation within viewers. Such is how viewers might feel about the male protagonist’s trauma that they have a chance of genuinely cringing at the rather painful unfolding of events by the film’s end.

Of businessmen and survivors

Of businessmen and survivors

That is – and I very strongly say this, at the risk of repeating a point – Audiard is not out to manipulate in the way many biopics do. Should he have wanted so, he’d have stuck to a classic narrative with French as the main language all along. The entire film runs mostly in the characters’ mother tongue: Tamil. Additionally, their arcs have an excellent buildup. Everyone you’re supposed to notice in Dheepan has a towering internal conflict. They try to put up a façade, but by the end of it all, viewers will notice how much the violence humans keep running away from affect them personally when it continues to stare them in their faces.

There’s a certain stickler I can see potential viewers having of the movie: by its end, we see a convenience in conflict resolution; quite off the rather progressive tone of the film. Abrupt that it may be, it is, however, a pretty symbolic end – you pick up the pieces and move on in life sometimes. Furthermore, it marks a perfect conclusion to another less-spoken thread on this review thus far: interpersonal relationships. One thing that was worrying me was whether the progressive closeness of the three main characters of this film would be a part of a checklist; a set pattern we’ve come to witness about progressive evolution of relationships. The evolution here is definitely present, but there’s an added layer of organicity to it all. When Yalini talks to Sivadasan at a kitchen coffee-table in their apartment, there’s an establishment of how naturally they’ve gone from tension to acceptance.

And they’re only talking about something as insipid as jokes. They’re not Jesse and Celine, but they still have the power to draw you into their lives simply because of how unapologetically themselves they are.

To Perform or Not to Perform

The other side of making ends meet

The other side of making ends meet

For that kind of range, one must require performers that are able to walk the rather dangerous tightrope of the complicated characters they play. Antonythasan Jesuthasan (Sengadal; English; The Dead Sea), however, makes it look so effortless. It might probably be the history he shares with the character — there are many parallels — but it is another thing that he’s made his history a weapon; he’s brought it out in him to creatively liberate himself through this character. Kalieaswari Srinivasan is brilliant. Her subdued nature perfectly balances out the urgency she portrays, and each of her emotions rings a bell in your head. There’s a rather tellingly relatable thread her performance weaves through the film. Claudine Vinasithamby is pretty great. To hold herself throughout the towering performances of the leads is a sensational achievement, and (even though she’s given a justifiably shorter role) she owns it. Vincent Rottiers plays a rather fascinating character. Brahim is flawed, complicated and has more than one type of emotion running through his brain. He works against the law, but he has a whole set of emotions and a history only he knows. Rottiers achieves that silent emotion — he has a lot of fantastic dialogue in the movie — through his body language.

Worth it?

I feel blessed to have caught Dheepan this year for more reasons than one. First and foremost, let us, for the love of authenticity, duly credit director Jacques Audiard, who — for someone who isn’t from Sri Lanka — makes a genuine attempt to push against the wave of stereotypes when it could possibly come to people of the region (or the region itself). The kind of people you’re witness to are real, grounded people who, like a whole many people around the world, speak their own native language. Secondly, Audiard makes sure the kind of trauma shown on screen does in no way reflect mainstream movie depiction of trauma. And thirdly, along with his terrific team, he makes sure the entire cinematic experience of the film leaves a haunting after-taste; one that doesn’t easily go away.

Dheepan is a film that is sure, and has an immense respect for both craftsmanship in cinema and authenticity in realistic storytelling. And if nothing else, it holds viewers’ attention for every single moment of its hundred-and-nine-minute runtime. If that cannot justify why I consider it one of the best films I’ve caught this year, nothing else will.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

We’re viral

Like usFollow us
Cast Antonythasan Jesuthasan
Kalieaswari Srinivasan
Claudine Vinasithamby
Director Jacques Audiard
Consensus: 5 Stars
The Elite League

What to Expect

It’s not always that you get to watch an excellently made film. And that primarily forms most of my justification for looking so eagerly forward to the Dubai International Film Festival.

Dheepan, obviously then, was definitely going to be one of probably many reasons why I so badly wanted to be here. The trailer never seemed to reveal much, and if anyone’s ever followed only a fragment of director Jacques Audiard’s filmography, they’d agree with my excitement.

And I really thought I was prepared for the film as I went in to watch it. Sometimes, however, the things that we least expect take precedence to our plans, if only to pleasantly surprise us through the happening.

And that’s exactly what Audiard’s film ended up being to me: the pleasantly unexpected.

What’s it About?

Nearing the last days of Sri Lanka’s Civil War, Sivadhasan (Antonythasan Jesuthasan) callously prepares to escape.  Bringing together a woman (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and a child (Claudine Vinasithamby), he – along with his unwitting accomplices – plan to escape to France by donning the identities of a dead family that almost nearly matches their physical description, in hopes of starting life with a clean slate.

Violence, and the past, however, have a very nasty way of catching up with you. And of course, if doesn’t seem to let go of them as it downs that they’re in an incredibly violent neighborhood – a ticking time bomb that’s waiting for a trigger to blow everything apart.

Worn out by violence

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Cinematography is more than just pretty, well composited frames. If used as a tool, the direction of moving photography almost always seems to have the power to help in telling a story. Take, for example, the opening of the film. We’re introduced to the ravaged surroundings by a wide shot of the story’s location. Aptly cutting to a mid-shot, viewers are revealed the desolate, hopeless faces of the people standing beside it. After lingering for just a bit, the film cuts to a close up of its protagonist on the far right, offset appropriately by the burning fire on the left side of the frame.

The close-up seems to vocalize a rather strong symbol: the protagonist is pushed to a corner, where as he looks at the perpetrators that have destroyed him, he can only exude an uncannily hopeless form of callousness. Cinematographer Eponine Momenceau seems to understand both Audiard’s film and his protagonist; it’s a prime reason why her attempts at imploring the audience to understand his loss through the rather symbolic visual cues make a strong mark. Tie that in with some of Juliette Welfling’s winning edit decisions and Nicolas Jaar’s brilliant soundtrack, and you’ve got a certain rhythm throughout the film that matches the narrative beautifully. It’s raw and not entirely structured, but this rhythm is what makes the film sharply unique. It’s what makes you a part of it without that extra effort of formulaic manipulation.

That rhythm, in its entirety, is what Dheepan really is all about. It makes you feel its characters’ urgent need of escapism. There’s a deep connection viewers are able to make with the people they watch on screen. Audiard and his collaborative writers make a strong case for what is revealed to be symptoms of post-traumatic stress. It is undiagnosed, and may not be explicitly spoken about in the film, but there are so many obvious signs of it in the second half that the writers have left open with good measure. That isn’t to say they’re milking it at all, however. Audiard has, in fact, used it as a rather brilliant tool to create an atmosphere of suffocation within viewers. Such is how viewers might feel about the male protagonist’s trauma that they have a chance of genuinely cringing at the rather painful unfolding of events by the film’s end.

Of businessmen and survivors

That is – and I very strongly say this, at the risk of repeating a point – Audiard is not out to manipulate in the way many biopics do. Should he have wanted so, he’d have stuck to a classic narrative with French as the main language all along. The entire film runs mostly in the characters’ mother tongue: Tamil. Additionally, their arcs have an excellent buildup. Everyone you’re supposed to notice in Dheepan has a towering internal conflict. They try to put up a façade, but by the end of it all, viewers will notice how much the violence humans keep running away from affect them personally when it continues to stare them in their faces.

There’s a certain stickler I can see potential viewers having of the movie: by its end, we see a convenience in conflict resolution; quite off the rather progressive tone of the film. Abrupt that it may be, it is, however, a pretty symbolic end – you pick up the pieces and move on in life sometimes. Furthermore, it marks a perfect conclusion to another less-spoken thread on this review thus far: interpersonal relationships. One thing that was worrying me was whether the progressive closeness of the three main characters of this film would be a part of a checklist; a set pattern we’ve come to witness about progressive evolution of relationships. The evolution here is definitely present, but there’s an added layer of organicity to it all. When Yalini talks to Sivadasan at a kitchen coffee-table in their apartment, there’s an establishment of how naturally they’ve gone from tension to acceptance.

And they’re only talking about something as insipid as jokes. They’re not Jesse and Celine, but they still have the power to draw you into their lives simply because of how unapologetically themselves they are.

The other side of making ends meet

To Perform or Not to Perform

For that kind of range, one must require performers that are able to walk the rather dangerous tightrope of the complicated characters they play. Antonythasan Jesuthasan (Sengadal; English; The Dead Sea), however, makes it look so effortless. It might probably be the history he shares with the character — there are many parallels — but it is another thing that he’s made his history a weapon; he’s brought it out in him to creatively liberate himself through this character. Kalieaswari Srinivasan is brilliant. Her subdued nature perfectly balances out the urgency she portrays, and each of her emotions rings a bell in your head. There’s a rather tellingly relatable thread her performance weaves through the film. Claudine Vinasithamby is pretty great. To hold herself throughout the towering performances of the leads is a sensational achievement, and (even though she’s given a justifiably shorter role) she owns it. Vincent Rottiers plays a rather fascinating character. Brahim is flawed, complicated and has more than one type of emotion running through his brain. He works against the law, but he has a whole set of emotions and a history only he knows. Rottiers achieves that silent emotion — he has a lot of fantastic dialogue in the movie — through his body language.

Worth it?

I feel blessed to have caught Dheepan this year for more reasons than one. First and foremost, let us, for the love of authenticity, duly credit director Jacques Audiard, who — for someone who isn’t from Sri Lanka — makes a genuine attempt to push against the wave of stereotypes when it could possibly come to people of the region (or the region itself). The kind of people you’re witness to are real, grounded people who, like a whole many people around the world, speak their own native language. Secondly, Audiard makes sure the kind of trauma shown on screen does in no way reflect mainstream movie depiction of trauma. And thirdly, along with his terrific team, he makes sure the entire cinematic experience of the film leaves a haunting after-taste; one that doesn’t easily go away.

Dheepan is a film that is sure, and has an immense respect for both craftsmanship in cinema and authenticity in realistic storytelling. And if nothing else, it holds viewers’ attention for every single moment of its hundred-and-nine-minute runtime. If that cannot justify why I consider it one of the best films I’ve caught this year, nothing else will.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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