A Prophet (Un Prophète) Review

Release Date (UK) – 22 January 2010
Certificate (UK) –18
Country – France
Director – Jacques Audiard
Runtime – 150 mins
Starring – Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif

The Cannes Grand Prize winner this year, A Prophet is a thrilling drama from Jacques Audiard (The Beat that my Heart Skipped). Set in a brutal French prison it enthrals with its harsh social realism and graphic violence. The 2 and a half hour long film follows new inmate Malik (Orange Rising Star nominee Tahar Rahim) from when he arrives at the prison to start serving his six year sentence. Out of his depth he is soon recruited to murder a fellow inmate, Reyeb, by Corsican gang leader César, threatened with his own murder if he refuses to do so. After committing the act he becomes under their protection but due to his Arab background is not fully integrated into their or any of the rival prison gangs. As his stay progresses he uses the prison facilities to become literate and even learns economics and after arriving empty handed he soon turns prison life around as he coordinates a drug smuggling business of his own whilst working for César and the Corsicans.

The non-professional cast are excellent, and this lack of stars adds to the gritty realism but at times I felt the film tried to be too stylised, in a sort of Guy Ritchie move with overloud rap music and unneeded titles to introduce characters. If these had been cut then this would have been a much more artistically worthwhile piece of realism, similar to Steve McQueens Hunger. Nevertheless this is still a beautiful piece of cinema that is extremely well photographed, edited and directed. A Prophet is already the best film I’ve seen so far this year and it will probably retain that title for many months. You can watch the A Prophet trailer over on our trailers page.

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