Nineteen year-old Franco-Algerian Malik El Djebena is just starting his six year prison sentence in Brécourt. Although he has spent the better part of his life in juvenile detention, this stint is his first in an adult prison. Beyond the division of Corsicans and Muslims in the prison (the Corsicans who with their guard connections rule what happens in the prison), he has no known friends or enemies inside. He is just hoping to serve his time in peace and without incident, despite having no prospects once he's out of jail since he's illiterate and has no support outside of the prison. Due to logistics, the head of Corsican inmates, a sadistic mafioso named César Luciani, co-opts Malik as part of the Corsicans' activities, not only regarding what happens inside the prison, but also continued criminal activities outside. The innocent Malik has no idea what to do but cooperate. This move does not sit well with the other Corsicans, who only see Malik as a dirty Algerian, and the Muslims who now mistrust him. But as time goes on, Malik works to save himself while in prison, while setting up his life post prison on his own terms. Both his demon and his salvation in prison is the specter of one of the first people he really got to know during his incarceration. —Huggo
Best film of 2009, a landmark film for French Cinema
Yes this movie is violence. Yes this movie contains racism and some unpleasant actors, but prisoners usually aren't stand up citizens. And these characters and location of the film are essential to the core message of the film, I guess if you don't know at least the basics of Islams or some of its myths then maybe the movie might go over your head. But I wouldn't dare spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet. But this movie is a modern work of art (and I adhere to a very strict definition of art) and even if you might not "get it" it should be thoroughly enjoyable, the cast does a marvelous job (a testament to the director's skill), and it's marvelously shot and cut. This is the kind of movie where you can't look away, every scene flows seamlessly into the next. So yeah, go watch it as soon as you get the chance.
- Dec 13, 2009
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