Film Review: Dheepan

Dheepan is showing at Plymouth Arts Centre from 13 – 19 May

For many people the journey to England is one they will risk life and limb for.

A foreign country with so much hope and possibility – but for many it takes a lot of courage, determination and strength to reach the ‘land of dreams’.  This is the case for Dheepan and his make-believe wife and daughter.

The French film starts with devastating scenes of bodies being buried. A young refugee rushes through the camp in hope of finding a child she can call her own. Not before long, Dheepan, Yalini and Illayaal are a very unconventional Tamil refugee family fleeing the civil war in their home country of Sri Lanka.

The scenes of hundreds of people queuing to get on to boats is a picture many of us know all too well in recent months. War causes pain and it causes people to flee their home country to head to foreign lands.

Dheepan moves through a French town outside of Paris, selling tacky lights and running from the police. His make-believe child joins a French school, getting bullied almost every day and struggling with the life away from her home.

Dheepan becomes a caretaker and ends up working for a gang. I felt for him as a character as he sat, drunk, singing in his native tongue, hoping everything will soon work out.

Beautifully shot – Dheepan is a story of a family that risk life and limb to stay safe. Something thousands are doing even now as you read this. And it’s not always riches and safety at the other end, as Dheepan and his family soon find out.

I was slightly disappointed with the end of the film and there were many questions I wanted answered – but maybe this was the point. The refugee crisis is one no-one seems to have an answer for.

Emily Smith


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