In competition at Festival de Cannes, The Assassin, a pictural enchantment depicting 9th century’s China by Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Dheepan, by award-winng french director Jacques Audiard.
Jacques Audiard (France) 1h50
Three years after De rouille et d’os in competition, and his Grand Jury Prize for A Prophet five years ago, Jacques Audiard is back on the Croisette with Dheepan.
No one sees what Dheepan has to do with Montesquieu‘s Persan Letters, apart from Dheepan the Tamil could say: “Monsieur is French? How can one be French?”
A love born in an emergency
Dheepan is the story of a love born in the urgency of the war, a love uniting a family composed in chaos, and who, after all, will allow three helpless people to deal with a new life France – not without conflicts however.
Political asylum in France
To escape the civil war coming to an end in Sri Lanka, Dheepan (Jesuthasan Antonythasan), an ancient Tamil Tiger, collects the passport of the deceased and pretends to be the husband of Yalini (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and the father of young Illayal (Claudine Vinasithamby)- he does not know – hoping a family would get easier political asylum in France.
Stranded in a sensitive cité – Le Pré – where Dheepan is a janitor, they learn about each other and try to form a home. But, Brahim (Vincent Rottiers), the nephew of Yalini’s employer, is back to drug trafficking after a stay in prison. As the police are absent from the city, Dheepan found his warriors reflexes to protect the family that gives meaning to his new existence.
In this moving film, Jacques Audiard tells the exile, the culture shock and language barrier with modesty, without excess, making Dheepan a warrior damaged by the war, but eager to move on and build a future of confidence. Unfortunately, the chosen refuge is rarely what we hoped.
Dheepan is played by the extraordinary Antonythasan Jesuthasan, enlisted at 16 by the Tigers of the Tamil Eelam. Setteled in France since the early 1990s, he multiplies odd jobs before becoming a writer and today an actor.
Hsiao-Hsien Hou (Taïwan) Noir et Blanc, couleur – 1h44
Taking place on a slow, poetic pace, with images of idyllic beauty, The Assassin is an action film with many scene of realistic and expeditious fights.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien addresses China‘s troubled history in the the 9th century, where provincial revolts announced the end of the Tang dynasty, and stages a woman belonging to the order of the Assassins.
His authority weakened by a series of provincial uprisings, the Emperor Tang tries to regain control of the provinces by organizing them into military regions, but the governors are trying to deny his authority. Tian Ji’an, the new governor of the province of Weibo in the North, decides to demand independence, taking the risk of a fierce repression.
Feelings for the man to kill
A hostage of power struggles, Yinniang (Shu Qi) has been entrusted at the age of 10 to a nun who was educated her to become a martial arts expert and thus transform her into a formidable Assassin charged with eliminating cruel and corrupt governors. One day, the sword expert with “a flexible heart” doesn’t fulfill the murder contract and is sent back to Weibo, her land of birth, with a mission to kill his cousin Tian Ji’an (Chang Chen), to whom she was promised when a child.
Yinniang is torn between obeying orders without qualms, and her amorous feelings for the man she must kill.
As virtuoso of the depth of field and framing, Hou Hsiao-Hsien filmed stunning long shots encompassing the background of the characters with the objects around them. The beautiful natural landscapes have a painterly quality. The colors are saturated, contrasted, with exquisite chiaroscuro games, often in scenes lit only with candles.
We are bewitched by the poetic and pictorial force of the story talking with great finesse of betrayals, revenge, love and power, sometimes only punctuated by a faraway drum or natural sounds. 1h44 of pure cinematic joy!
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