The film Dheepan is one of those films. It won the Palme D'Or at Cannes last year. It's a French film which colors in the details of one sort of family of immigrants in Europe. From a country we don't normally see in the news on refugees.
Good film has such a powerful way of plunging us into other people's lives and connecting us to the pains and, in this film, small joys. Not like the superficial descriptions of refugees we see in the news, the nameless faces in a crowd.
It's on Netflix - at least in the US - for now. It's powerful. Dheepan.
|Screenshot when they get their new identities|
Here are parts of three different reviews.
From Joe Morgenstern's Wall Street Journal review:
"Whether by chance or the filmmaker’s design, the touchingly modest wardrobe of a young schoolgirl in “Dheepan” includes a T-shirt that says “New World Order.” Her life bespeaks a new world disorder. She’s a refugee from Sri Lanka who has managed to reach France as part of a pretend family—a mother, father and daughter who barely know one another, though that’s not what it says on their false documents, and who don’t know how to begin making a new life for themselves in an alien culture. Every day we see new accounts of refugee tides coursing across continents, and every account challenges our comprehension. Jacques Audiard’s superb drama, which won the top prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, rises to the challenge with the power of art and not a scintilla of sentimentality."
From A. O. Scott's New York Times review:
"They have, in effect, borrowed a new life from the dead, and the transaction is mostly successful. They are able to leave the refugee camp where they meet and fly to France (though Yalini would prefer to go to England, where she has relatives). After a spell in a crowded dormitory in Paris, during which Dheepan earns money selling trinkets and batteries on the street, the three are granted asylum, thanks to the intervention of a sympathetic interpreter and the benign haplessness of the French state."(I'd note I saw lots of Dheepans selling trinkets on the street last August in Paris.)
And from Peter Bradshaw's review in The Guardian:
"There is such exhilarating movie mastery in this powerful new film about Tamil refugees in France from director Jacques Audiard, who gave us A Prophet, Rust and Bone and The Beat That My Heart Skipped. It’s bulging with giant confidence and packed with outbursts of that mysterious epiphanic grandeur, like moments of sunlight breaking through cloud-cover, with which Audiard endows apparently normal sequences and everyday details. There is also something not always found in movies or books or TV drama – that is to say, intelligent and sympathetic interest in other human beings. Every scene, every line, every frame has something of interest. All of it is impeccably crafted and the work of someone for whom making films is as natural as breathing."