Dheepan is a Tamil freedom fighter, a Tiger. In Sri Lanka, the Civil War is reaching its end, and defeat is near. Dheepan decides to flee, taking with him two strangers - a woman and a little girl - hoping that they will make it easier for him to claim asylum in Europe. Arriving in Paris, the 'family' moves from one temporary home to another until Dheepan finds work as the caretaker of a run-down housing block in the suburbs. He works to build a new life and a real home for his 'wife' and his 'daughter', but the daily violence he confronts quickly reopens his war wounds, and Dheepan is forced to reconnect with his warrior's instincts to protect the people he hopes will become his true family. Written by
From the ashes of the Sri Lankan war a trio of strangers forms a family. It is an act. It is a passport across borders that none of them could get by as easily on their own. They are all orphans; man, woman and girl. Each of them has lost everything and everyone. Selling trinkets on the streets, learning new languages, understanding foreign cultures, realizing the ropes in a crime ridden housing project and avoiding warring factions are only some of the hoops they must jump through in their new home in order to survive. Adjusting to a new world is difficult, yet a greater metamorphosis is required inside each person. To make things work each must believe in the fiction of the family. Fluid identities must be embraced.
The toughest thing is learning to live with each other. For each adult it is like having two kids to deal with; teenager and spouse are equally petulant. It is not merely the practical things that are needed to survive, it is learning from each other, talking, having a sense of humor, kindness and love. In this sense, this family of strangers could be any in the world. We all could believe in this "fiction."
There were times during the film, for instance a character flashback and close-up of an elephant on the verge of charging, where I felt a rush of emotion. It was such a change of tempo in sound, plot and vision, and so magical even as brief as it was, that it was like an electrical current surging along my spine. I wish there were more such flashbacks, but that might have taken from the charm. The plot of the story, a migration from a war-torn land and individuals reconstructing their lives as well as their identities, is timely and portent. The only addition for a perfect film; more believable acting. Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Seen at the 2016 Miami International Film Festival.
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