• by Wes Singleton

Review: Dheepan, A

Rated R, 115 minutes

Subtitled in Tamil and French

The powerful, affecting drama "Dheepan" is a compelling statement on the modern immigration movement, with a few thrills thrown in for good measure. Winner of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival's top prize, the Palm D'Or, it's directed and co-written by acclaimed French filmmaker Jacques Audiard of the Oscar-winning foreign language film "A Prophet." Three Sri Lankan refugees, including former Tamil Tiger soldier Dheepan (Jesuthasan Antonythasan), Yalini (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and Illayaal (Claudine Vinasithamby) pretend to be a family as they try to make better lives for themselves in a Parisian housing project. They wind up as caretakers of a rough housing project controlled by drug dealers, but their new home turns out to be another conflict zone. The superbly acted and directed "Dheepan" is a fascinating portrait of a family forced together and who end up caring about each deeply. Part character study and part thriller, the first two-thirds focuses on the trio's adjustment to new life in Paris, while the more conventional last act has the main character ascribing to his vigilante roots, going all Charles Bronson on some drug dealer thugs. The pertinent immigration themes are the most aspect of it, and the fictional story, while taking place in France, could've easily taken place nearly anywhere. Tamil actor Antonythasan is excellent as Dheepan, a former soldier whose life is upended when he has to transition to a new country with a fake family. Newcomer Srinivasan is also compelling as his pretend wife, who must work directly with the drug dealers when she takes a job as a maid for one of the drug dealer's families. The story works much better than you might think, and while it certainly has its dark moments, especially near the end, it's quite touching to see the strangers come together and actually function as a family, with a final scene that will tug at your heart. Thrilling, fascinating and poignant, "Dheepan" is a must-see.