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|Index||143 reviews in total|
So to start out: Simply put, this was undoubtedly one of the best
movies of 2009.
The film is a very tense prison drama that centers on a young, illiterate Arab named Malik El Djebena (Played by Tahar Rahim), who is sent to a French prison for a six year sentence, his first in an adult prison. The main inmates of the prison are groups of Muslims and Corsicans, the latter who use guard connections to control what happens in prison. He is recruited by a Corsican kingpin in the prison, Cesar Luciani (Pkayed by Niels Arestrup), to join him in fulfilling criminal acts and schemes for him, not only in prison, but in the outside world as well. While in prison, he also tries to help set up for his post prison life, as well as occasionally being haunted by a specter in the form of one of the first people he got to know in prison (Played by Hichem Yacoubi) The movie's story is nothing short of spectacular. It's tense, brutal, and edge of your seat engrossing. It's absolutely inspired work.
The movie is not only told wonderfully, but acted brilliantly. The cast are all incredible, they help lift this movie to unreachable heights, especially Tahar Rahim, who carries this film undeniably perfectly. I also want to give credit to wonderful performances like Arestrup, and Adel Bencherif, as well as a brilliant performance by Hichem Yacoubi.
The movie runs at a relaxed pace, and the time just flies right by because you're just so into the movie. It keeps your interest locked onto what's happening, and doesn't lose that interest.
A wonderfully told movie, with absolutely brilliant performances.
I give Un Prophete ***1/2 out of ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
the prophet is a story of a french Arab, malik who was imprisoned for
six years in jail for a small crime at the age of 19. the story tells
how in this six years he became the mafia boss making his way through
Corsicans and Muslims crime bosses.
this movie clearly shows how a jail which were established for amelioration of criminals has became the platform for recruiting new criminals.similarly,our anti-hero who involuntarily doomed to the violent world of crime,forced to do murder and certain crimes he would not have done if he was not imprisoned.
at the jail there was no going back and he became pawn of the bosses.slowly,he gambled his fate took every opportunity comes to him.in the course of six years his destiny took him to attain the position of a kingpin.he was used by the disrespectful Corsicans and mistrusted by Muslims.but at last he took revenge from Corsicans and also became respectful among Muslims.in jail he developed his skills, became literate,make friends and with becoming more stronger he became more evil from inside.
this movie shows one of the most realistic depiction of jail life and crime world.their dirty game of politics and power.the scenes of violence seems very real which makes them very violent and unbearable.i have seen many movies made on the same idea and story but none of them was so realistic and veridical.
the storytelling was brilliant,the whole movie was seamless and very artistic.they depict alteration of malik in jail,his every step towards his freedom and the power very elaborately.
direction was also almost perfect,perfect use of camera to reveal emotions of characters with details of the surrounding.casting was also perfect everyone did the great job.the characters were very real and depict true nature of a criminal,they were not seemed to be fictional or fake like in most of the crime movies.
being a very violent movie and can be considered as racist by many,this movie explore the deep truth of the most darkest and sinister part of the society.highly recommended for art movie lovers from all over the world.
"The Beast",I refer to, is the prison,and those who end up doing hard bullets for various crimes. In this case,it draws on Malik El Djebena, a 19 year old who has been sentenced to six years for murder. While in prison,he comes to the attention of the local protection mob,mostly made up of Corsicans,headed by Cesar Luciani,who is doing a life stretch, there. After a grisly initiation ritual,young Malik ends up a flunky for the Corsicans,doing various jobs for them (but is still ill treated by the various other members of the gang,who regard Malik as little more than a house boy). Amid all of this,Malik is plotting a sinister agenda of his own. Jacques Audiard ('Read My Lips','The Beat That Skipped My Heart',etc.)directs from a very well written screenplay by Thomas Bidegan,Abdel Raouf Dafri,Nicholas Peufaillit & Audiard. The film's gritty cinematography is by Stephanie Fontaine,with editing by Julliet Welfling. Tahar Rahim plays the role of young Malik,that ranges from near innocence,when he enters prison life to hardened criminal within a short period of time. Abdel Bencherif is Ryad,who is as close to family that he has,with Jean Phillippe Ricci as Vettori,one of Luciani's close associates,with far too many other cast members to list here. This is a tense,unflinching tale of prison life that will not be everybody's cup of tea,but those with a penchant for it will respect it for it's bravura. Spoken in French,Corsican & Arabic with English subtitles. Rated 'R' by the MPAA,this film contains some brutal,bloody graphic violence,pervasive strong language,sexual content & flashes of nudity. Leave the kiddies home (I really mean it---this is NOT for children)
Out of 3 contenders nominated for the best foreign film Oscar I've seen (still yet to see Ajami and Milk Of Sorrow), the French entry A Prophet is arguably the strongest. Still I don't love this film, which only shows how little I care for the Academy's picks in this category. Jaques Audiard's A Prophet is a story of Malik El Djebena, a young prisoner who gradually gains power while working out the politics of prison system. Audiard does a great job showing the chain of influences in prison that has a lot in common with the battle of gangs. This well-acted movie not only shows the mechanisms of organized crime, but also focuses on its main character's psyche becoming a peculiar character study. Sadly, it's very hit-or-miss in this mode. I completely don't get an allusion to Malik's prophetic skills pointed out only at one point in the movie. In addition, director Audiard has plenty of problems with tone and pacing: the movie often feels painfully slow and would benefit from additional editing. In fact, I would even go as far as to get rid of 50 minutes of this overlong movie, which would certainly make for a more visceral experience. All in all, A Prophet blends truly powerful material with lengthy mundane passages. It strikes me as a lost opportunity for a gangster movie classic. 6/10 (B-)
Clearly inspired by the intelligent, incisive, and provocative genre
that has given us "The Godfather" and every other Scorcese production,
here comes "The Prophet", a detailed, blunt, lacerating exposure to the
deals behind the walls of a French prison where a new generation of
entrepreneur/criminal rises from a nondescript inmate to an
intelligent, manipulative, and very resourceful leader.
Brilliantly played by Tahar Rhim, Malik is an intriguing figure, an example of a character that is equal parts, resourceful, intelligent, and lucky, as he takes every possible advantage of what the surroundings can offer. His first instinct is to survive, and eventually he learns to use every possible opportunity to gain control of his surroundings and possibly outsmarts the other clique heads Rahim is perfectly cast as he is an example of the new French generation, an embodiment of two or more cultures, closely tied to his ancestors but perfectly exemplifying the conflicts that arise from not really belonging anywhere, a human being who years acceptance, identity, and control of his surroundings, and though "Un Prophete" is rather daring example of how far people can go, it never shies away from the conflicts currently tearing apart France's society. There is plenty of suspense, tension, drama, and emotional conflicts boiling under the surface of what might seem to many just another prison drama, but don't be mistaken, there is nothing ordinary about a movie that gives us full bodied characters with enough emotional baggage to draw the attention of many in the audience. Here cleaning up the blood after a horrible crime is full of pathos, not just a quick way to arise audience's sympathy. The blood is a reminder of the action, the cleansing process, the loss of life, the psychological tensions that are part of that character's own make up. At this moment, revelations are surging forward, transforming him in front of our eyes. He's baring his soul and stripping his body, but the blood remains, and he continues to evolve within the new phase of his life.
The film is an intimate epic, never really giving us loud scenes, special effects that overwhelm and substitute for non existing scripts. When things explode, it is because there is no other way out, something must burst, die, or change. Change of some fashion is taking place, and it's all the result of a series of events that can't be stopped. Most interesting is the fact that every move here is calculated, even with the inclusion of the dreams that might contribute to the main character's development.
This film deserves more than its share of awards and more than one viewing to do it justice. It highlights the introduction of a magnificent performer to the silver screen, one who can communicate more than a few emotions with a quick look and a small gesture. Hopefully it will overcome the recent slight at the Academy Awards and garner a bunch of nominations in next year's awards, as it is a much better example of what truly original and remarkable craftsmanship is.
Having waited for a long time to see a truly powerful film I'm relieved to say that my wait has ended. If you appreciate cinema that is masterful, subtle and brutal then The Prophet is the film for you. The film maker is at the top of his craft in every way. The story evolved into a riveting tale of survival, discovery and triumph. That you can say that about the creation of a powerful criminal mastermind is all the more magnificent. It is a story as much about self discovery as it is about self creation. From the claustrophobic sensation created by the cinematography that shows you a world you've probably never seen to the performances that never lose their humanity this is an important film. If there were flaws I missed them. For over two hours I was immersed in a story that is masterfully told. I highly recommend this film.
The last french film this intense must have been La Haine in my opinion. With a generous 2 hour running time it still catches you from the 1st till the last minute and never lets you look away. This French Slumdog millionaire portraits life in prison realistic and raw without making life in crime equal stardom or a walk in the park. The flashes of the psyche of the somewhat mysterious Malik are intriguing and complement the harsh reality of indifferent justice systems, dirty prisons and dog eat dog mentality. Excellent performance by everyone but Tahar Rahim as Malik is no less than magnificent. Even if the story line, not a simple action flick, is not your thing than watch it still. You'd be missing out on a classic if you don't. Brilliant!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'A Prophet introduces us to its 19 year old protagonist, Malik, a
secular Muslim, who has been just sentenced to six years confinement in
what appears to be a maximum security French prison. It's unclear what
he's in for but when he first arrives, Malik is practically illiterate.
What's more, he doesn't fit in with the French-Corsican types who
appear to 'run' the prison. The French-Arabs also hate Malik, as they
regard him as a traitor, since he seemingly has been consorting with
The fraternizing, however, is unintentional. The Corsicans, run by Mafia boss Cesar Luciani (brilliantly played by Niels Arestrup) threaten to make mince-meat out of Malik if he doesn't murder a recent admitted prisoner, Reyeb, a fellow Arab, who is now awaiting trial. Reyeb invites Malik into his cell for some sex but appears to be quite literate and sensitive. Malik has no choice but to conceal a razor in his mouth and use it to do Reyeb in, by cutting his carotid artery. Once Malik does the dirty deed, Cesar declares that he's now under the 'protection' of the Corsicans inside the prison. Malik eventually becomes Cesar's right hand man, earning the coveted job as 'porter', getting all kinds of perks including a very expensive stereo system as well as visits by a prostitute. At a certain point, a good number of Cesar's buddies are transferred out of the prison, which reduces Cesar's overall influence. Cesar comes to depend on Malik more and more but always reminds him that he's still a 'dirty Arab'.
Eventually, one of Malik's Muslim buddies, Ryad, helps him how to read. Now more educated, and with new found confidence, Malik is ready to take on more responsibility as Cesar's enforcer. By bribing various officials on the outside, Cesar arranges for Malik to receive one day parole passes. Director Jacques Audiard throws in the kitchen sink as we follow Malik on the 'outside'. Malik's first job for Cesar is to pay a ransom to a bunch of thugs who have kidnapped one of his crew. Malik successfully gets Cesar's man back and is soon ready for his second assignment.
But before he does Cesar's bidding a second time, Malik joins forces with Ryad (now paroled), while he's out on his one day parole pass; they become partners in a lucrative hashish smuggling operation. The operation is soon threatened by a criminal named 'The Egyptian' who kidnaps Ryad and threatens to destroy Malik's whole operation. Malik turns the tables on The Egyptian when he discovers through contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood that The Egyptian's brother is locked up in the same prison. They beat him up and learn where The Egyptian's mother is living. Malik's friends go to the mother's house, tie her up and take a picture of her using a cellphone. That picture is sent to The Egyptian who backs off.
Suffice it to say but the plot of 'A Prophet' becomes even more complicated as we head toward the climax. Cesar has two more 'assignments' for Malik. During assignment #2, Malik takes his first jet flight to Marseilles where he meets with a Muslim crime boss who Cesar wants to negotiate a truce with. The crime boss ends up brokering a truce between Malik and The Egyptian, at Malik's behest. Assignment #3 involves Cesar's decision to order the assassination of his own boss with Malik as the assassin. After following a bullet-proof limousine with the intended targets inside, Malik manages to get inside the vehicle and shoot the crime boss's bodyguards. He then drags the boss to his own van and ties him up in the back. But instead of killing him, he explains that it was Cesar who ordered the hit. One of Cesar's associates is left tied up in the back of the van, soon to be murdered by the boss. Malik cleverly returns late on his one day parole and is locked up for forty days and forty nights in 'the hole'. By the time he's let out, Cesar has no associates left in the prison to back him up. Cesar gestures for Malik to join him, but Malik ignores Cesar while standing with his new found Muslim friends in 'the yard'. Malik won't stick up for his former boss as he has endured too many humiliations from him. When Cesar tries to walk over to Malik, a Muslim inmates comes up and punches Cesar in the stomach. A shell of his former self, he doubles over and is left writhing in pain outside on the concrete floor.
If you forgive the rather implausible ending where Malik miraculously ends up kidnapping a major Mafia kingpin and then lets him go, A Prophet must earn praises for its attention to detail and highly entertaining plot. It's the type of film that holds your interest to the very end.
A few criticisms are still in order. First off, the Muslims come off looking much too good in this film. The Corsicans are the bad guys and the Muslims are depicted as being way too 'sensitive' (remember how Malik engineers the prison shakedown, even though the warden points out that the Muslims inside the prison are quite well-behaved?). Aren't there any bad apples? There's also lots more sympathy for the other Muslim characters--poor Ryad is dying of cancer and Reyeb, with his book smarts, is no ordinary thug. Furthermore, instead of killing Cesar at the end, the Muslim inmate merely punches him in the stomachinstead of knifing him to death (which would have been much more realistic).
Despite Malik's violent conduct throughout the film, none of it is to be condemned, since he was the victim of the Corsicans from the beginning. Director Audiard terms 'Un Prophete', the "anti-Scarface"--and that is correct; in the sense that while Pacino's Scarface and Audiard's Malik are both charming, Scarface gets his just rewards while Malik's questionable conduct, remains unpunished.
Normally a film that includes graphic shots of a man getting his throat
cut in the first half hour would have a hard time getting more than a 0
rating from me. But this one is different.
Tahar Rahim plays Malik El Djebena, a naïve 19 year old French (probably French/Algerian) guy who ends up in a tough French jail for assaulting a policeman. We don't get to find out much about what brought him to this point, although there are hints that he didn't get the best start in life. We do get to see how prison changes him.
With echoes of 'Papillion' and 'Midnight Express', he finds himself in a prison world divided into two camps - the Corsicans and the Arabs. The Corsicans hate the Arabs, and the Arabs hate the French. Malik is hated by the Arabs for being French and hated by the Corsicans for being Arab. That is, until the Corsicans find a use for him.
Un Prophète is one of five films nominated for Best Foreign Film in the 2010 Oscars, and there are many aspects that makes this film deserving of the nomination.
First, it is many different stories-within-a-story - and each one works. It is a political commentary on the relationship between Corsica and the French mainland, and on the tension between Arab and Corsican populations in France. It is also a story of friendship, loyalty, and conscience. And at the heart of it all, it is the personal journey of Malik, who evolves from an innocent boy into a street-wise man. Second, Un Prophète does a great job of describing moral complexity. Jail is supposed to rehabilitate offenders, but Malik commits far worse crimes in jail than out. He learns to read and write, but he also learns the drug trade. He enters prison with a single note, and leaves a relatively rich man. He begins the film as an isolated outsider, but leaves with friends and a family of sorts. There is a third, interesting thread running through it which explores how someone who doesn't fully fit into any part of society can make this work to their advantage. Finally, all of the acting is excellent. The unknown Tahar Rahim is totally convincing as Malik evolves from naïve inmate to master criminal. Niels Arestrup (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) is completely believable as the Corsican mafia boss. It's almost unfair to single them out because the supporting cast is also excellent.
Despite the violence I would give this film a 10. What brings it down to a nine is that I lost the plot part way through (Godfather style, there were too many characters being played off against each other for my brain to cope with) and perhaps the supernatural element that gives the film its name, but didn't really seem to go anywhere.
I haven't seen any of director Jacques Audiard's other material (most recently De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté (2005) and Sur mes lèvres (2001)) but I'll be looking out for them.
I know it's not the first film I have seen in 2010 but Un prophète
really does set the precedence for the year. I very much doubt there
will be a better film than this released any time soon. The film
straddled the genre line perfectly and included enough elements for it
to be unmistakably part of the relatively niche prison film genre or
the much more commonly recognised gangster film genre, yet at the same
time it flaunted certain elements in order to really make a point. This
is the whole point of genre being formed and the reason that genre in
cinema is so important. Not so that lazy writers and directors can
churn out 'sure fire' predictable hits but so that geniuses and
directorial wizards like Jaques Aidiard can subvert certain mythologies
in a recognisable and engaging format. It was from Steve Neale that I
learned the importance of this repetition and variation. This film
could well have been used to prove his point as to why the variation
from certain expectations can be so impactful and carry so much weight
see www.destroy-apathy.blogspot.com for a full and in depth analysis
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