Friday, 22 January 2010

Film review: A Prophet (*****)

French filmmaker Jacques Audiard’s latest is the first truly essential film of 2010. Audiard, director of Read My Lips and The Beat That My Heart Skipped, turns his attentions to the prison movie and, in particular, French-Arab prisoner Malik (Tahar Rahim) just starting a six-year stretch for, well, the film never tells us. If incarceration wasn’t bad enough, things are about to get a whole lot worse for Malik when he’s presented with a stark choice by the prison’s Mr Big, a vicious Corsican gangster named César (Niels Arestrup): kill another inmate or be killed. C’est simple. The result is, without a doubt, one of the most shocking onscreen killings you’ll ever see and will haunt you for days. Later, as Malik begins to work for César, he receives regular visits by the ghost of the man he killed. Perhaps it’s his ghost. Maybe it’s meant to be Mailk’s conscience. The movie lets that one hang, unanswered. As it does with the scene that gives the film its title. Soon Malik is given more responsibility beyond making tea for César and his Corsican cronies, using his days off for good behaviour to settle scores and do deals for him on the outside. But Malik’s a smart one, and as he grows in stature and confidence inside, he exploits his ethnicity and position close to César to highly profitable effect and uses his friendship with both a dealer on the inside and a former inmate to lay the foundations for his own crime empire come his release. It’s an exceptional performance from Rahim, and another sensational film from the masterful Audiard. Do yourself a favour and go see it. You won’t be disappointed.


Gerard said...

Really hanging out for this. Can't make it to any of the pre-release screenings over here, so it's early Feb for me.

Mark Salisbury said...

At least it's well worth the wait.

Bill said...

Saw it. Loved it.