2 hours, 29 minutes
R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.
for strong violence, sexual content, nudity, language and drug material.
Tahar Rahim ... Malik El Djebena
Niels Arestrup ... Cťsar Luciani
Adel Bencherif ... Ryad
Hichem Yacoubi ... Reyeb
Reda Kateb ... Jordi
Jean-Philippe Ricci ... Vettori
Gilles Cohen ... Prof
In this engrossing prison drama, Malik
el Djebena (Tahar Rahim), is a
19-year-old Arab of North African origin who is sentenced to six years in
prison for assaulting a police officer. When he enters the French prison, he is
naïve, shy, and almost withdrawn, and cannot read or write. Before long he is singled
out by Corsican Mafia boss César Luciani (Niels Arestrup) and
told to kill fellow Muslim prisoner Reyeb (Hichem Yacoubi) by slitting
his throat with a razor blade. If he refuses, he will be killed himself.
Once the job is done, in as brutal a scene as you will ever see,
Malik comes under Césarís protection, becoming the Corsicanís slave who is ordered to carry out menial tasks for his boss inside the prison. Malik soon begins to educate
himself, not only learning to read, but teaching himself
Corsican and learning details of Lucianiís business. More importantly
for his survival, he learns how to operate among the various prison
subcultures with their various rituals and codes of honor, although he
is still an outsider, not fully trusted by any group.
César raises the level of jobs given to Malik, affording him
the opportunity to leave the confinement of the prison on several day
passes, one involving his first ever flight to Marseilles to negotiate
with another Mafia kingpin. Little by little, Malik sets up his own deals with his friend Ryad (Adel Bencherif) who is suffering from
cancer, and before long he begins to establish his independence from the Corsicans. Malik also becomes known as a prophet after surviveing a bizarre car crash,
an incident that had been foretold in a fantasy sequence.
Directed by Jacques Audiard ("The Beat That My Heart Skipped") A Prophet,
won the Grand Prix Award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. It runs
a lengthy two and a half hours, but it never feels padded or stretched out. There is no shortage of intricate details involving drug traffic,
sex, payoffs, and general prison corruption. With a compelling score by Alexandre Desplat and brilliant cinematography
by Stéphane Fontaine, this is a violent, often ugly
and difficult to watch film, but it is completely redeemed by its superior direction, its outstanding performances by Rahim and Arestrup, and the honesty
in which it handles the conflicts within the violent prison atmosphere..