Classic Review – A Prophet (2009)

A Prophet

Title – A Prophet (2009)

Director – Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone)

Cast – Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencheriff, Reda Kateb

Plot – A Prophet charts the rise of young lower-class Arabian Malik El Djebena (Rahim) and his time in a French prison under the tutelage and protection of criminal boss Cesar Luciani (Arestrup).

 “What are you? A prophet or something?”

Review by Eddie on 5/11/2013

Frenchman Jacques Audiard’s Golden Globe winning and Oscar nominated 2009 prison opus is a startlingly original tale that 4 years down the track still packs an almighty punch both emotionally for the viewer and as a work of art.

The story of A Prophet to an outsider would seem slight but in the finalised package it is anything but. With a true girth of talent on camera from Niels Arestrup’s crime matriarch Cesar Luciani through to cancer suffering criminal Ryad played by Adel Bencheriff, every actor makes their character memorable. The multilayered story centres upon young and uneducated criminal Malik El Djebena played by a freakishly good Tahir Rahim. The film charts a truly believable and fascinating rise of Malik a man that we as an audience root for from frame one until the films perfectly fitted conclusion. Malik’s time in this particular French prison transcends it’s genre however thanks to Audiard’s brave and beautiful direction.

Wowing audience’s the world over last year with his haunting tale Rust and Bone Audiard here in A Prophet showcased an impressive feat to create a movie that at times is chillingly violent (a scene with a razor blade comes to mind here) and starkly beautiful. Audiard’s direction is that of a filmmaker in complete control of his material, not afraid to mix in on paper odd song choices, scenes of the titular prophetic visions and one of the movies strongest and haunting elements that of a ghost of Malik’s past that accompanies him on his prison sentence. These elements plus many more unmentioned make A Prophet the experience it is and we as a cinema loving people should be thankful that these pieces came together the way they did for us to sit back and partake in.

A Prophet hit a chord with audiences so much so that it was almost immediately commissioned for an English language remake that just recently was announced to be scripted by Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River author Dennis Lehane. Whatever this remake ends up being one thing is for sure, it has mighty prison boots to fill for this version of the story is about as perfect as you’d ever hope for and a movie that will continue to be found and adored by movie lovers the world over.

5 razor blades out of 5

15 responses to “Classic Review – A Prophet (2009)

  1. I remember seeing this one a couple years ago. It’s a very good look at the criminal underworld in Europe and it certainly isn’t a commercial Hollywood type film.

    • Hi Jacob. Your in for a treat when you watch this one that is for sure. Rust and Bone while in my opinion not in the same league as A Prophet is a great movie with a particularly strong 3rd act and some great main performances. Well worth a look and one of the more beautiful films in recent memory.

  2. Had to check this out as I also reviewed ‘A Prophet’ a while back and thoroughly enjoyed it as well. The intensity of that initial half hour is quite impressive and immersive, no?

    I guess my only complaint with the film would be the disjointed nature of its latter portions. To me, much of the film felt like a random assortment of different dates picked out of a hat from Rahim’s prison sentence, rather than exuding a more natural passage of time a la ‘The Shawshank Redemption.’

    • Hi Predator. I understand your thoughts here but I feel it just about covered all it needed to, it is by no means normal by structure though which I think is a big part of its charm and high standing.

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