A ProphetFeature Film |
A riveting prison drama with flashes of transcendence amid the brutality.
A rags-to-riches crime story is not the most original cinematic conceit, but, with 2009's A Prophet, director Jacques Audiard and his team bring enough interesting tweaks to make it feel fresh. As the film opens, Malik (Tahar Rahim in a breakout performance) is just a poor illiterate Arab teen caught up in the French criminal justice system. He doesn't know it yet, but he's also the smartest guy in the room. The Corsican mob, headed by the grizzled César (Niels Arestrup), runs the prison, and they give Malik an ultimatum: kill another Muslim prisoner—an informant—or be killed himself. But Malik's intended victim imparts a bit of wisdom that Malik takes to heart: "The idea is to leave here a little bit smarter." The fraught father-son dynamic between Malik and César is the core of the film. Malik gains César's protection and the perks that come with it, but their ethnicity and the constantly shifting balance-of-power make it impossible for them to trust each other. A violent voyage of self-discovery, A Prophet is truly riveting. Audiard presents us with a cipher, a trapped man who doesn't know what he's capable of, but who quickly learns how to protect his interests, and eventually moves to outwit or outmuscle everyone in his way. Propulsive, gritty, and profane, with oddly transcendent elliptical moments of beauty—flashes of dreams or visions—scattered throughout, the movie, which was nominated for a 2010 Best Foreign FIlm Oscar, could someday stand alongside the classics of the genre.
|A Prophet Trailer|