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Film / Dheepan

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Dheepan is a 2015 French film directed by Jacques Audiard, starring Sri Lankan author and actor Antonythasan Jesuthasan.

Dheepan wants to flee from Sri Lanka. In order to be accepted as a refugee in France, he pretends to have a wife, Yalini, and a daughter, Illayaal. Yalini and Illayaal are actually perfect strangers. The fake family arrives in France and settles into a poor area, where criminality is rampant.


Dheepan provides examples of:

  • All of the Other Reindeer: Illayaal is rejected by the other girls at school. They do not accept to play with her.
  • Almighty Janitor: Dheepan works as a building caretaker. It does not stop him from shooting down a whole gang.
  • Animal Motifs: There are several shots of an Asian elephant, which symbolizes Dheepan's composure and inner strength.
  • Anti-Climax: Brahim takes Yalini hostage. Yalini asks Dheepan to come for help. Dheepan shoots down a whole gang to enter the building. He is ready to confront Brahim, but Yalini tells him that he has died in the meantime.
  • Babies Ever After: In the end, Dheepan and Yalini live in England and they have a baby.
  • The Beard: Dheepan and Yalini pretend to be married to be accepted as refugees in France.
  • Becoming the Mask: Dheepan, Yalini and Illayaal pretend to be a family to be accepted as refugees in France. In the end, they have developped feelings towards each other and they are happy to live together like a real family.
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  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Dheepan seems to be a quiet caretaker, but if you theatens his fake wife, he will turn into a One-Man Army.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The interpreter at Dheepan's refugee interview. He pops up in the narrative again, summoning Dheepan to a meeting with a Tamil colonel who wants Dheepan to be part of The Remnant, even after the war has been lost.
  • Damsel in Distress: Yalini. Brahim takes her hostage to force Dheepan to help him.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: During the Sri Lankan Civil War, all the members of Dheepan's platoon were killed. His wife and children were killed too.
  • Defeat as Backstory: During the Sri Lankan Civil War, all the members of Dheepan's platoon were killed. His wife and children were killed too.
  • Failure Knight: Dheepan is determined to protect his fake wife Yalini. His real wife was killed during the Sri Lankan Civil War and he feels guilty about it.
  • Fish out of Water: Three Sri Lankans settle in a French banlieue (low-income housing project).
  • Gangbangers: The area where Dheepan settles is controlled by gangbangers. They are mainly Arabs and Blacks, as stereotypical French gangbangers. A conflict between two gangs brings about the events of the climax.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Dheepan is at a refugee hearing. He starts to tell a BS story about how he was a peace activist, but his interpreter sniffs this out as BS. They quickly agree on a different story in which Dheepan escaped after being forced to join the Tamil Tigers—all of this right in front of the French government official who has no idea.
  • I Have Your Wife: When he is wounded, Brahim takes Dheepan's fake wife Yalini hostage to force him to help.
  • An Immigrant's Tale: The story of Sri Lankan refugees in France.
  • Just Got Out of Jail: Brahim just got out of jail and he resumes his criminal activities just like that.
  • Meaningful Funeral: The funeral that Dheepan attends in the beginning convinces him to migrate to the West.
  • Mob War: There are conflicts between groups of Gangbangers. First, there is a shooting in the street and Yalini and Illayaal have to take cover. Finally, Brahim and another mobster have an argument. Rival gangbangers soon arrive and shoot Habib and Brahim in their flat.
  • Not His Blood: Dheepan finds a blood-spattered Yalini in Brahim's apartment and asks if she's all right, but she explains that it's Brahim's blood.
  • One-Man Army: Dheepan shoots down a whole gang to free Yalini.
  • Paid-for Family: Yalini and Illayaal pose as Dheepan's wife and daughter. In exchange, they can be accepted as refugees in France.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Dheepan decides to migrate to the West because his family and fellow soldiers were killed. In the opening scene, he attends a funeral.
  • Protagonist Title: Dheepan is the protagonist.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Dheepan's wife and children were killed during the Sri Lankan Civil War. Progressively, he develops feelings for Yalini, his fake wife, and Illayaal, his fake daughter.
  • Retired Badass: Dheepan was a soldier during the Sri Lankan Civil War and he had superior combat skills, as judged by the fact that he can easily shoot down a whole gang. Now he works as a building caretaker in France. When an officer asks for his help to keep on the fight, he rejects his proposal and says that war is finished for him.
  • Romantic Fake–Real Turn: Dheepan and Yalini pretend to be married to be accepted as refugees in France, then they fall in love.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Dheepan is a shell-shocked veteran of the Sri Lankan Civil War. That is why he cannot stand the violence of the gangs in France.
  • Stock Scream: Surprisingly, this deadly serious European film throws in a Wilhelm Scream, heard near the end when Dheepan is assaulting the enemy gang, and runs over one of them with a car.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: As conditions deteriorate in the tenements due to the gangbanger turf war, one set of gangsters uses a trashcan bonfire as a sort of border checkpoint.