A Prophet

A PROPHET (Sony, 2009) D: Jacques Audiard,.


A PROPHET (Sony, 2009) D: Jacques Audiard, w/ Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup. Rating: NNNNN DVD package: NNN Rating: NNNNN


As gangster movies go, A Prophet is up there with the first two Godfathers and Goodfellas. That’s as good as it gets. Like them, it’s assured filmmaking in service of a unique vision, and, also like them, it carries the charge of a true glimpse into a forbidden world. Unlike them, it shows no upside to the gangster’s life every day is violence and terror. Also unlike them, it takes place almost entirely in prison.

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On the first day of a six-year stretch in a French prison, 19-year-old Malik is forced to commit murder by the Corsican Mob who rule the prison. They treat him as a servant and despise him as a “filthy Arab.” The Muslim gang across the yard hate him for hanging with the Corsicans. Malik keeps his eyes open and his mouth shut, gains the Corsican boss’s confidence and uses his day passes to deal hash and build contacts. Finally, he makes his move.

Performances filled with raw power, a constantly moving camera, cramped locations and hustling extras create a flawless sense of documentary reality, so it’s amazing to hear how self-critical director Jacques Audiard, star Tahar Rahim and co-writer Tom Bidegain are in their commentary.

EXTRAS Commentary, rehearsal footage, deleted scenes. Widescreen. French, Portuguese, Spanish audio. English, Portuguese, Spanish subtitles.

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