starring Antonythasan Jesuthasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Vincent Rottiers, Claudine Vinasithamby
screenplay by Noé Debré, Thomas Bidegain, Jacques Audiard
directed Jacques Audiard
by Bill Chambers "Well, not exactly," a critic acquaintance gently scoffed after I shrugged that Dheepan was "y'know, Taxi Driver." ("So Dheepan is basically the second time Taxi Driver's won the Palme d'or," I snarked on the Twitter.) He's a grinder, and I respect the hell out of grinders--the ones who see everything and interview everybody and indefatigably churn out coverage: They are the heavyweight champions of the film-festival circuit. But they are a literalminded bunch (they have to be, for efficiency's sake), and the Taxi Driver parallels are admittedly by no means 1:1. In Dheepan, three refugees of a Sri Lankan military conflict form a makeshift family out of stolen identities in order to start a new life abroad. They land in France, where "Dheepan" (Antonythasan Jesuthasan) scores a job as the caretaker of an apartment complex, finds "wife" Yalini (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) work as a housekeeper to one of the building's tenants, and enrols 9-year-old "daughter" Illayaal (Claudine Vinasithamby) in public school. Yalini, still in the prime of her youth, bristles at having to maintain the charade, particularly the fact that she's become an insta-mom, with Dheepan direly overestimating her maternal instincts and capacity for sentiment. Of all the women he could've been paired with, he got Kelly Kapoor.