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Dheepan is a 2015 French crime drama film directed by Jacques Audiard and co-written by Audiard, Thomas Bidegain, and Noé Debré. The film was partly inspired by Montesquieu's Persian Letters,[5] as well as the 1971 film Straw Dogs, with guidance from Antonythasan Jesuthasan, who stars as the title character.

Dheepan poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJacques Audiard
Produced by
  • Pascal Caucheteux
  • Jacques Audiard (uncredited)
Screenplay by
  • Jacques Audiard
  • Thomas Bidegain
  • Noé Debré
StarringAntonythasan Jesuthasan
Music byNicolas Jaar
CinematographyEponine Momenceau
Edited byJuliette Welfling
Distributed byUGC Distribution
Release date
  • 21 May 2015 (2015-05-21) (Cannes)
  • 26 August 2015 (2015-08-26) (France)
Running time
115 minutes[1]
  • Tamil
  • French
  • English[2]
Budget€8 million[3]
Box office$4.9 million[4]

The film tells the story of three Tamil refugees who flee the civil war-ravaged Sri Lanka and come to France, in the hope of reconstructing their lives.[2][6] The film won the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. It was later shown in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.[7]


Sivadhasan is a Tamil Tiger soldier during the last days of the Sri Lankan Civil War. After the armed conflict resolves, his side loses and he is forced to move to a refugee camp. There he decides to move to France to take a fresh chance at life. However, in order to secure political asylum, he requires a convincing cover story. He is given the passport of a dead man, Dheepan, and pairs with people he barely knows posing as his family. Along with his supposed wife, Yalini and his supposed 9-year-old daughter, Illayaal, they get on a ship bound for Paris. Upon arrival, he lands a job as a resident caretaker and starts building a new life in a housing project named Le Pré . He winds up as a caretaker of a rough housing project controlled by drug dealers (filmed on location in the peaceful project of La Coudraie, in the suburban city of Poissy). The new home turns out to be another conflict zone for him. Shootouts between rival drug gangs terrify Yalini and Illayaal as they try to fit into their roles as mother and daughter. Yalini is pressured to accept a job as a nurse-maid to the father of the local drug lord. Sivadhasan attends to his duties in spite of the chaos that surrounds him but is drawn into the fight. Caught in the crossfire of a climactic gunfight, Sivadhasan's latent battle-readiness resurfaces and he single-handedly destroys an entire gang with just a handgun, a machete and a screwdriver. He rescues Yalini from her boss's blood-soaked apartment. Eventually they all manage to immigrate to England where they find real peace.



Director and stars at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

Director Jacques Audiard started making the film with the intent to make a variation of Sam Peckinpah's 1971 thriller Straw Dogs. But he wanted to set it in a community that no one in France knew much about. He and his writing partner, Thomas Bidegain, decided on the Tamils.[8]

The film's title character, a Tamil Tiger child soldier, is played by Antonythasan Jesuthasan, himself a former child soldier.[9] During filming, Jesuthasan sometimes made corrections for accuracy.[8]


Box officeEdit

Dheepan opened in France on 28 August 2015. The film grossed $3,882,022 in France and $999,774 elsewhere for a worldwide total of $4,881,796.[4]

Critical receptionEdit

The film received largely positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an 87% rating based on 116 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10. The site's consensus reads, "Dheepan offers a timely, powerful look at the modern immigrant experience in Europe.".[10] Metacritic reports a 76 out of 100 rating, based on 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[11]

According to critic Andrew Pulver, the film "may not be the director’s most immediately electrifying film, but in its understated way, it’s an immensely powerful work".[12] Commenting on the film, critic Jason Gorber notes that besides depicting immigrant experiences and integration, the film "is polemical without being didactic, and its message about human spirit and how connections of love can flourish in the most astonishing of ways is extremely moving".[13] The Independent called it "a radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head".[14]


The film won the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.[15][16][17] After winning the award, Audiard said "To receive a prize from the Coen brothers is something pretty exceptional. I'm very touched".[18] When the film award was announced, the international press corps responded a mixture of boos, shrugs and applause.[19] After the announcement ceremony jury co-presidents Joel and Ethan Coen noted that ''everyone [on the jury] had some high level of excitement and enthusiasm for it."[19][20] Ethan Coen called the jury's decision "swift."[20]

Award / Film Festival Category Recipients and nominees Result
Cannes Film Festival[7] Palme d'Or Jacques Audiard Won
César Awards[21] Best Film Nominated
Best Director Jacques Audiard Nominated
Best Actor Antonythasan Jesuthasan Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Vincent Rottiers Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain and Noé Debré Nominated
Best Cinematography Eponine Momenceau Nominated
Best Editing Juliette Welfling Nominated
Best Sound Daniel Sobrino, Valérie Deloof and Cyril Holtz Nominated
Best Production Design Michel Barthélémy Nominated
Lumières Awards[22] Best Film Nominated
Best Director Jacques Audiard Nominated
Magritte Awards[23] Best Supporting Actor Marc Zinga Nominated
Miami International Film Festival[24] Grand Jury Prize Won
Online Film Critics Society Awards[25] Best Non-U.S. Release Won


  1. ^ "Dheepan (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 21 December 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Cannes Film Review: 'Dheepan'". Variety. 21 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Dheepan". JP's Box-Office.
  4. ^ a b "Dheepan (2016) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  5. ^ "Cannes 2015 : 3 choses à savoir sur "Dheepan", le nouveau film de Jacques Audiard". Metro International. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  6. ^ "'Dheepan': Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Toronto to open with 'Demolition'; world premieres for 'Trumbo', 'The Program'". ScreenDaily. 28 July 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  8. ^ a b Donadio, Rachel (20 April 2016). "For Its Star, 'Dheepan' Was the Role of His Lifetime". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  9. ^ "Cannes winner stars Sri Lankan former child soldier". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  10. ^ "Dheepan (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Dheepan reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  12. ^ Pulver, Andrew (21 May 2015). "Dheepan Review". The Guardian.
  13. ^ "Cannes 2015 Review: DHEEPAN, Powerful With Moments Of Sheer Bravado". Twitch Film. Archived from the original on 5 August 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to - Reviews - Films". The Independent.
  15. ^ "2015 Official Selection". Cannes Film Festival. Archived from the original on 18 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  16. ^ "Screenings Guide". Cannes Film Festival. 6 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  17. ^ Rebecca Ford (24 May 2015). "Cannes: 'Dheepan' Wins the Palme d'Or". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  18. ^ "Cannes Palme d'Or awarded to French film Dheepan". BBC News. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  19. ^ a b Chang, Justin (24 May 2015). "Cannes: Jacques Audiard's 'Dheepan' Wins Palme d'Or". Variety. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  20. ^ a b "French film 'Dheepan' wins Palme d'Or in upset Cannes finale". NY Daily News. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  21. ^ "'Golden Years,' 'Marguerite,' 'Dheepan,' 'Mustang' Lead Cesar Nominations". Variety.
  22. ^ "Prix Lumières 2016 : Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse et Mustang en tête des nominations". AlloCiné. 4 January 2016.
  23. ^ "Les " Magritte du Cinéma ", c'est le 6 février prochain à 20h00". Cinergie.
  24. ^ "'Dheepan' and 'Paulina' triumph in Miami". Screendaily. 13 March 2016.
  25. ^ "'Mad Max: Fury Road' Wins Best Picture of 2015 From Online Film Critics Society". Variety. 13 December 2015.

External linksEdit