Last year, the Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes)’s prestigious Palme d’Or was awarded to the French film Dheepan. A film I felt compelled to see after hearing about it’s appearance in Sydney’s own French Film Festival. Also a film I just returned from seeing. Also a film that just floored me. And a film that just made my list for the greatest ever made.
Dheepan follows an unrelated man, woman & child who pose as a family (a family recently deceased) to leave Sri Lanka and find a better life in France. Unfortunately, their lives continue horribly and they must find ways of coping with a new country and each other.
The performances in Dheepan are great. Antonythasan Jesuthasan (who plays the titular Sri Lankan) is astounding as his counterpart, Kalieaswari Srinivasan. The child (Claudine Vinasithamby) is not as great although she is given less screen time than the aforementioned couple. And Vincent Rottiers who plays a “businessman” fresh out of prison is brilliant as well.
Dheepan is a film of the highest order. Drama relies on conflict, stories rely on conflict and Dheepan breathes conflict. The situation that the characters are put through in Dheepan is so horrible and painful to imagine that it makes a lot of problems in life seem unbelievably minute. But it is presented in the most realistic and filmic way possible.
But with one of the most pristine levels of dramatic quality does come a great sense of disturbance. Dheepan is a distressing film but it is a distressing film presented with the most masterful form. So if you’d prefer a happy movie and would prefer to avoid some very dark storytelling, avoid Dheepan.
Dheepan is one of the greatest dramas ever made with it’s great performances, the darkest level of dramatic cinema I’ve ever seen and one of the most intense climaxes in the history of cinema.
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