The filmography of French filmmaker Jacques Audiard spans several decades, but in the last few years, his output has been especially impressive. The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005), A Prophet (2009), and Rust and Bone (2012) each earned him a wave of critical acclaim and international accolades, including BAFTA, César, and Cannes awards. His newest film, Dheepan, is already on a similarly laudatory trajectory, having won the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes last year, and now up for several nominations for this year’s César Awards.
The international trailer has arrived, and it accurately captures the intensity, somberness, and hope in Audiard’s thoughtful drama. (I caught the film at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall.) Antonythasan Jesuthasan (also known by his pseudonym, Shobasakthi), a former child soldier-turned-author-actor, stars in the partially autobiographical title role: Dheepan is a Tamil soldier who is sent to a refugee camp in the final days of the Sri Lankan war. In order to more easily escape his country and gain political asylum in Europe, he and an unknown woman and child pose as a family together, and the three of them are forced to make a new life together in a strange, new country.
In light of the Syrian refugee crisis, Dheepan is incredibly timely, touching on many of the cultural and political tensions currently in the air. And while it’s a fool’s errand to talk next year’s Oscar chances before this year’s ceremonies have even passed, Dheepan could legitimately have a shot at landing Audiard his first Academy Award nomination, for Best Foreign Language Film. The film arrives in the U.S. on May 6.