Assuming the name on a dead man’s passport, Dheepan swaps his weaponry for a mop bucket and a screwdriver as he becomes the live-in caretaker covering four blocks of flats. Gangs ‘own’ the area and the family witness a nightly drama out of their ground floor window. They have escaped one conflict to emerge in the middle of someone else’s war.
Little Illayaal demands that her mother “give me a kiss like everyone else” as the young charge is dropped off at school. The child’s grasp of French is stronger than her parents, and she becomes their interpreter as they navigate bureaucracy.
“We’re new – it’s normal they stare.”
Intimacy grows amongst the family. All three yearn for physical and emotional security as they battle PTSD. The gang members they rub up against daily are trapped too in their own cycles of conflict.
At times distressing, always edgy, Dheepan is a tense and absorbing film. What starts as a story about war and displacement becomes a tale of love and longing before as director Jacques Audiard (The Beat My Heart Skipped) makes it turn full circle and disrupts the estate.
Well worth catching Dheepan at the Queen’s Film Theatre between Friday 22 April and Thursday 5 May.