A Prophet (18)
This is both a “prison” film and a contemporary coming-of-age story as we follow Malik (Tahar Rahim), a young man of Arab descent as he enters the brutal French prison system. He is still a boy, a teenager on the threshold of adulthood, shy, naïve, passive, a petty criminal. The prison is ruled by César Luciani (terrific performance by Niels Arestrup, who was also in Audiard’s, The Beat my Heart Skipped), a Corsican gangster/godfather who sees Malik as a way of reaching the Arab prisoners who are housed in a separate wing. The terrified Malik begins his real education here, not only in how to survive in this Darwinian kill-or-be-killed world, but in how to use the system to his own advantage, how to conceal his feelings from everyone including us, the audience, so we can only judge him from his actions. This is a paradigm of capitalist society at its most cut-throat.
Jacques Audiard was born into the film business in Paris, 1952. His father, Michel, both wrote and directed and his uncle produced. Jacques initially decided he wanted to be a teacher but gave up his degree at the Sorbonne to train as an editor, working with several directors, including Roman Polanski. He started adapting works for the stage and in the 1980s wrote several successful screenplays. He directed his first film in 1994, Regarde les hommes tomber, which won three Césars, followed in 1996 by Un herós très discret, which won Best Screenplay at Cannes. Sur mes lèvres (2001) also won three Césars. His last film before A Prophet, De battre mon Coeur s’est arrêté (The Beat my Heart Skipped) confirmed him as the master of the French thriller.
Cast: Adel Bencherif, Niels Arestrup, Tahar Rahim, Tahar Ramin
Jacques Audiard | France | 2009 | 155 minutes | 18
Weighted vote 90.8%