All this week we’ve been looking at the films of Jacques Audiard to celebrate his latest film, the 2015 Cannes Palme d’Or winner Dheepan, entering UK cinemas this Friday.
We’ve taken a look at Audiard’s
Today we throw our spotlight on Dheepan itself. We look at the themes of the film, along with commentary from the director himself from our conversations with him at Cannes, as well as a handsome gallery of images and some illustrative clips.
Here’s our closer look at Dheepan.
From the very first frame Audiard’s command of cinematic storytelling takes us almost wordlessly into a heartbreaking struggle as Jesuthasan Antonythasan (as Tamil Tiger Dheepan) is pushed to a metaphorical edge, only to jump desperately into a new life. Confronted with a new family, a new country and the oppressive unknown his difficult past in Sri Lanka informs much of how he relates to the world, and to those he meets.
It is in the moments of meeting and getting to know his new ‘wife’ and ‘daughter’ Yahlini and Illayaal (Kalieaswari Srinivasan and Claudine Vinasithamby) we are reacquainted with the director’s penchant for conveying palpable emotional power through gesture, expression and the great unsaid.
Much of Dheepan’s power comes from these moments. Many of us will never know the destablising effects of an enforced, diasporic life. The construction of identity in Dheepan comes from small moments which build, through a gripping narrative momentum, to some semblance of self. Each of the characters find trouble in its many forms and react, then once on more solid ground they begin to act on their own agenda. The struggle is painful, unlooked for and relentless, as this clip proves.
No Fire Zone Dheepan movie clip – NSFW language
This is a very deliberate act of defiance, one of many which has to made throughout the film. Audiard shows the powerful pull of the past and its insistence of finding a place in each character’s potential futures. This theme of making peace with oneself is given a visual counterpart in the peace which has to be made with their new home.
We spoke with the leads and director in Cannes, and Audiard himself spoke to the notion that, with the refugee crisis happening across the world, Dheepan is timeless, rather than timely. He said that his film was “more interested in integration rather than immigration, it’s not a life or death situation like with people arriving on beaches. What I’m doing is giving a name, a body, a thought, to these anonymous people who have no names, no faces.”
The film also marks a deliberate departure from Audiard’s previous films. Speaking with us he explained that carrying on making solely French films, with French actors “doesn’t reflect the reality of when I open the door and step out into the street. There are all these people from elsewhere and I’m interested in hearing other voices and seeing other faces.”
Part of making these other faces and voices relatable (if their struggles are not) is handled by drawing out the human drama inherent in their everyday. This clip from the film has a potent emotional weight given the desperate context, however it is a moment many of us will have had, as parents or as scared children, at some point in our lives.
Dheepan’s promise is far more than giving presence to people so often invisible. In many ways the heart of the film is why it succeeds.
Audiard explained, “It’s not so much to humanise them, but to make them the hero. To put them in a cinema screen, to make them centre stage. Documentaries do the job of humanising, and cinema creates heroes.”
The full interview with Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Jesuthasan Antonythasan and Jacques Audiard will be up on HeyUGuys on Friday, until then you watch the trailer below and enjoy a gallery of images from Dheepan.