Dheepan, the new Audiard, finally showed up in my little town’s independent theater. I’m definitely glad I got to see it on a large screen and I’m definitely looking forward to the Director Commentary on the DVD release.
Dheepan won the Palmes d’Or at Cannes in May of last year (2015), opened in French theaters quite soon after (August 2015 – when EVERYONE (correct me if I’m wrong) is on vacation). They then plugged in English subtitles for a UK release the following February (2016) – and voila! here it is on the other side of the pond in just a little over a year. Not Internet Time, for sure, but definitely a record for an Independent Film.
It’s another Audiard/Bidegain collaboration (see also: Rust & Bone and The Prophet) following the travails of 3 refugees of Sri Lanka’s Civil War (1983 – 2009).
Word is that inspiration was also drawn from Montesquieu’s Persian Letters and Penkinpaw’s Straw Dogs. Am I going to watch a Penkinpaw, just to get a better grip on what that might mean? No. I am not.
But the Montesquieu lead’s intriguing. Montesquieu was a prominent French social critic — born in 1689 (100 years before the French Civil Wars hit the ground running). Montesquieu is best known for writing a little pamphlet entitled The Spirit of the Laws — which is thought to have been a major source of inspiration for both the The Founding Fathers of the United States and Catherine the Great of Russia. Rome banned it.
What’s so intriguing about that?
Montesquieu made a lot of noise about how Slavery was Just Wrong and should definitely be abolished yesterday — an inconvenient “recommendation” that various and sundry founding fathers proceeded to studiously ignore.
The flip side of that is that Slave is from the word Slav – because when Western Europe was developing its Romance languages (after the fall of the Roman Empire) they were enslaving Eastern Europe’s pagans (aka Slavs), because Rome said they really shouldn’t be enslaving Christians.
Am I going off on a tangent? What is Audiard really on about in this film? Is it really just about one little guy trying to rebuild his life on the other side of the world?
No spoilers, please. But. If you’re a Rust & Bone / Prophet fan, go ahead and think of it as a Trilogy. I’m scheduling a retrospective as we speak.