I was first introduced to the filmmaker Jacques Audiard with the intense crime opus A Prophet. That film was easily one of the greatest crime dramas this side of The Godfather, it followed a Muslim teen sent to prison who rises in the world of France’s organized crime both as a matter of necessity and in order to better his lot in life. I’m here to tell you that while Dheepan is not a step forward for Audiard, the film nonetheless represents everything that makes him one of the truly exciting voices in contemporary cinema. Like that 2009 feature (which was France’s entry into the Academy Awards at the time) Dheepan is harrowing saga about people who go through tremendous suffering on their way to freedom in a country that isn’t their own.
Filmmaker Matthew Vaughn went and transformed himself from a producer and filmmaker in the shadow of peer Guy Ritchie, to a director-for-hire to a genuine auteur. Don’t get me wrong, his previous efforts such as the underappreciated Layer Cake, the quintessential superhero flick X-Men First Class and the anarchic Kick-Ass were all enjoyable and showed off an impeccable sense of filmmaking craft. As great as his films were, none ever seemed to elevate themselves beyond pop movie. That is until he decided to repurpose an old Mark Millar spy comic called The Secret Service and create one of the meanest, irreverent and cynical satirical work since Paul Verhoven’s Starship Troopers. Kingsman: The Secret Service is violent, chaotic and angry, it uses the framework of a blockbuster James Bond parody for the purpose of angrily indicting issues of elitism, male privilege, and many others. The secret genius behind this film is that it does such a good job as a finely tailored example of the very things it aims its vitriol at that it can be easily mistaken as a celebration of those terrible things. The movie is too self-aware to be taken at its face value, and like the best satirical works, it never lets the audience off the hook.