Saturday, March 12, 2016

Dheepan (2015) Rendez-Vous With French Cinema 2016

Frances's entry for the Oscar seemed to be a shoe in for a nomination, however the Oscar voters decided against it which resulted in much chatter, since after it's seeming surprise win at Cannes Oscar gold seemed certain.

Having seen the film now I have to ask why did anyone think this was going to win an Oscar, and how did it win at Cannes? Its not that the film is bad, it's not, its more along the lines of it being two separate films mashed badly together.

The film has Dheepan setting up a bogus house hold with a woman and a motherless young girl in a Sri Lankan refugee camp. Taking the identities of a recently deceased family via their passports they head to France where Dheepan works as a caretaker in a block of flats while his wife cares for a sick man. Things are complicated because there is lots of gang activity in the complex, which the family gets sucked into.

Largely the story of what refugees have to do to go to a new country the film is very good when it's revealing what its like to go to a country when you really don't speak the language.Its a wonderful mediation on what a family is, how they come together as well as look at the cost of assimilating.

The problem with the film comes when it is dealing with the gangs in the complex. As long as the gangs are kept at arms length the film is fine. However as the film goes on crime takes a center role for no real reason except it allows for a couple of gunfights. The climatic shootout seems to have been cribbed from TAXI DRIVER because it's a hell of a lot more exciting than just having the refugees fade away into a mundane existence. Yes I understand gangs are in laces like that, but at the same time the mixing of the real story of  a refugee grafted with twists out of exploitation thrillers is way too much to ask.  (And I won't go near the actual WTF ending which is really too much and had the people around me groaning audibly and shaking their heads-yes its that WTF)

On it's own terms and away from the hype it's a good film, but if you look through the prism of it being an award winning film you have to shake your head and wonder just how drunk the people voting for it were or how much the producers paid to secure it.

The closing night film of Rendez-Vous With French Cinema the film plays twice on March 13.

For tickets and more information go here.

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