Claudine Vinasithamby and Jesuthasan Antonythasan star in Dheepan.

Claudine Vinasithamby and Jesuthasan Antonythasan star in Dheepan.

French film follows a Tamil ‘family’s’ refugee experience

For its first film of the new fall season, the Vernon Film Society will be screening Dheepan, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

For its first film of the new fall season, the Vernon Film Society will be screening Dheepan, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Director Jacques Audiard asks the timely question, “What happens to the millions of migrants who flee the world’s conflict zones to find new homes in the west?”

The film begins in Sri Lanka at the end of the civil war as a Tamil soldier, Dheepan (Jesuthasan Antonythasan), burns the bodies of his fallen comrades. The guns are quiet, his family has been killed, and he has nowhere to go.

In the refugee camp, he meets Yalini (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and they decide to cobble together a fake family along with young Illayaal (Claudine Vinasithamby) in order to fool the aid workers, thus obtaining a passage on a boat for France.

Once there, the family, using its hard-won survival skills, has to navigate a crime-ridden housing complex. In order to secure their position in France, they must make their false family real, but past violence and current threats create a volatile combination that is bound to explode.

“As an empathetic snapshot of the current immigrant experience in France, the film is compelling right through, but it’s the central relationship that really digs its way into your soul,” said Tim Robey, with The Telegraph.

“What keeps Dheepan engaging throughout is the tremendous charisma of the performers,” reported Variety.

Dheepan (rated 14A for violence) screens Monday, Sept. 12 at the Vernon Towne Cinema at the regular times of 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. Tickets are available one week ahead at the Towne box office and the Bean Scene for $7 (cash only).