A Prophet (Un prophète)

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics

Feb 25, 2010 Issue #30 - Winter 2010 - Vampire Weekend
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For 19-year-old Malik (Tahar Rahim), part Corsican, part Arab, it's kill or be killed when he enters prison to serve a six-year sentence for the assault of a police officer. César (Niels Arestrup), a Corsican mafia lieutenant and the prison's most powerful inmate, has his thugs torment Malik until he agrees to murder Reyeb (Hichem Yacoubi), an Arab being held until his trial testimony. The nerve-racking buildup to the murder attempt, the impressionistic aftermath envisioned by director Jacques Audiard, and the ambiguity in Alexandre Desplat's subtly effective score lift this 149-minute French film to an early dramatic height that's never quite reached again.

     Still, fans of The Godfather and GoodFellas should appreciate Malik's shrewd navigation through the prison's bustling network of corruption. Arestrup is chilling as the nefarious César, and Rahim so transforms Malik that his boyish wariness at the film's outset is only a vague memory by its midway point. A Prophet was awarded the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2009 and was France's official Academy Award submission. (www.aprophetfilm.com)

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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