Victoria Jelinek

A Prophet (Un prophète)
October 1, 2010, 11:52 am
Filed under: Published film reviews | Tags: , , , ,

Imprisoned for six years for an unspecified crime, illiterate French-Arab teen Malik (Tahar Rahim) is initiated into the prison’s criminal underworld. A ‘quick study’, he soon plots his ascendancy through the extremely brutal hierarchy of his fellow inmates.

Perceived as a greasy Corsican by the Arab inmates and a dirty Arab by the Corsican criminals, Malik is our guide through the violent and nightmarish labyrinth of the French penal system and its network of warring tribes. Lead actor Rahim gives a masterful performance, conveying different parts of his character – from keen student to wary tough guy – in the shift of his brow. Malik as our ‘hero’ is an empathetic character whose choices, or lack of choices, are understandable, even if they’re not relatable.

This is an excellent, albeit disturbing, film – director Jacques Audiard has created a modern French crime film and a gritty prison drama that’s ambitious and thrilling.