Cannes 2015: Building a life and a family from scratch, in Jacques Audiard’s “Dheepan” (review)

Without any intention of easy sensationalism, Jacques Audiard returns with another illustration of meaningful, mature, great cinema with heart and strength.


Along with Yalini, a young woman who is not his wife and a nine-year old orphan girl the Illayaal, they will pretend to be a family in their effort to get political asylum in France.

In this way, they find themselves in a building in the poorest suburbs of Paris, a den of drug trafficking and illegal activities, in which Dheepan will be hired as janitor, while Yalini works as housekeeper to an elderly man and Ilagial starts school.

The three of them look like a normal family and attempt to lead a normal life.  However, the fabric of the sham “normal” life, which they seem to believe themselves, is apparently starting to unravel during the film in the same manner that a disturbing dream returns like a shadow from the past.


Jacques Audiard’s film looks at the three characters with deep sympathy and understanding while it records with simplicity but also in an exciting way their new daily routine, without allowing us to forget the circumstances of their lives and what defines them.
Exploring second chances and the material that builds a family or brings people together, “Dheepan” is a deeply charming, tense, touching but never cheesy drama, which sweeps you completely.


And even when just before the end, the script reveals a reversal that seems to be slightly off the topic of this deep humanitarian story, this doesn’t upset the balance of the film’s structure, but offers instead a catalyst necessary to drive the film at deep satisfactory finale.

Read more of our Cannes 2015 reviews.