Directed by Jacques Audiard and starring French Algerian actor Tahar Rahim as young muslim Malik El Djebena, 2009 film “A Prophet” follows the rise to power of a nineteen year old minor criminal who lands himself a six year sentence in a French prison. Soon after he arrives he becomes involved with powerful Corsican crime boss Cesar Luciani (played passionately by veteran French actor Niels Arestrup.)
After successfully completing a hit on a fellow Muslim for the Corsicans and subsequently getting a taste of what real protection in the lockup feels like, our introverted protagonist is dragged into the daily affairs of Luciani – immediately crossing the prison’s Muslim/Corsican divide.
I would have to agree with what others have said about “A Prophet” so far in that what gives this movie it’s punch is the effective transition of Malik from a blank slate to a prison figurehead. 30 year old Rahim is insanely likeable in his unassuming outsider role and plays it flawlessly – you feel sorry for him and root for him even though we watch this guy murder someone etc.
This was another film in which again – I didn’t realise how strong it was until I finished it. Like the best prison films it takes you away from the free world and into theirs, I guess I didn’t realise how captivating the film was until I was released…I will definitely be watching this one again.
I enjoyed the scenes between Malik and Luciani alone particularly towards the end as Malik becomes more powerful, mainly because one can sense the undercurrents of emotions and unspoken dialogue between the two, and most of that depth and layered quality performance is down to plain old good acting all round.