Un Prophète Review
A Prophet is a hard hitting french prison drama with similar parallels to the gangstar classic Scarface, where the main character Malik El Djebena a young arab convict played by Tahir Rahim makes his way up from being an illiterate outcast on the prison playground to being the Linchpin of his own drug cartel that stretches across most of Western Europe. The film racks up to an impressive 155minutes long but at no time do you feel this is a 10 stretch. The acting is superb with Niels Arestrup playing a dark and sophisticated Corsican mafia boss – Oscar Luciani, who adopts young Malik under his wing thinking he could use him as an insider against the rival arab prison gang, but doesn’t know have an understanding of Malik’s own to desire to have an empire with his arab brothers.
Most of the film is concrete slabs and dirt. There is the constant murmur of the rumours passed around in Arabic and Corsican if it is not in banlieue slang French now with Malik’s drug empire starting to make name for itself. And then theres the violence, which is a complete antithesis of the pitter patter of note passing and whispering in the courtyard – it’s brutal and with that it’s powerful. Jacques Audiard has played with this new ‘New French Extremity’ of playing on violence where the viewer almost feels embarrassed and even too disgusted to watch. Yet it adds an in depth appeal into how hard Jail life is and the realistic and troubling nature of the distorted lines of hatred between different the many different ethnic groups in France.
A prophet is a must see and opens up ideals into troubling issues, especially in France given that their new president Francois Hollande has started to take a heavy handed approach into detaining refugees. It as well a sophisticated jail drama, much better than anything you will see produced in the UK with its stunning cinematography and soundtrack and will leave you with a better understanding of life both as a convict and as a French Arab.