An impressionable and vulnerable Arabic man gets thrust into a hellish prison, and ironically discovers greater opportunities for success than he ever possessed outside of the bars, in this violent melodrama from Jacques Audiar.
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Top Critic Reviews
Fresh: Rahim is an exciting, unpredictable presence, and Arestrup's Csar has a stature that's nearly Shakespearean.
- David Edelstein, New York Magazine, Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Fresh: This is a class of movie that operates on a higher plane than its peers. I wrestled with it. But on some level it's here to be wrestled with.
- Wesley Morris, Boston Globe, Thursday, March 4, 2010
A Prophet is a beautifully textured and hued movie trapped inside a dull genre. Audiard attempts to circumvent some of the obvious challenges of making a prison film with vague supernatural touches to offset the bleakness and by giving Malik occasional "outside days" where he's free to run around and traffic drugs, and these touches do liven the proceedings considerably. The movie's always at its most exciting when Malik has escaped the prison, largely because that's the only time it ever seems to break from unavoidable cliche. The tale is incontrovertibly absorbing, a big chunk of tautly-written formula done both properly and with great artistry, but after all is said and done the cumulative effects of what Malik endures seem awfully expected. My other reservation with A Prophet is with Malik himself. He's a complete charismatic black hole. Though he isn't necessarily without personality characteristics, as evidenced by a subtle drive to learn and improve and a not-no-subtle mean streak, his stylistic illiteracy doesn't really seem to jive with the occasional artsy flourishes of the rest of the film. The viewer's eye strays toward the politics of the prison versus the young boy maneuvering through them, simply because the former is that much more alive. Malik's a boring man, which is mostly a curse, but also creates some interesting tensions throughout the film. His lack of character is an intentional choice meant to supplant him into the ranks of the Corsicans to move the plot forward. Seen but not heard, his implied promotions from "errand bitch" to "drug runner" to "honorary Corsican kingpin" feel surprisingly organic, largely because he barely seems aware of them himself, let alone enough to comment on them. Tahar Rahim's performance is great, not self-congratulatory and modest to his castmates; he throws just enough illumination on his very few vulnerable or clever moments, not overdoing or underdoing them. He's a very conscientious, smart actor, and really the reason why this character isn't a complete failure. I think he could have been more interesting, but through no fault of Rahim's own. Frankly, that's how I feel about the whole movie - it's a more-than-competent treatment of material that doesn't always shine. Perhaps I was expecting something a little more original, or even something more formally unusual, but what I got was a rock-solid prison flick. Not a versatile genre, but I can recognize its value; honestly, though, there's nothing here that The Shawshank Redemption didn't cover, albeit in a more squeaky-clean sort of way. They're both worth seeing, but I think that with every incarceration tale I watch the limits of the genre become more and more evident.
- ceWEBrity, Sunday, October 24, 2010
There is no denying that Un Prophet is a masterpiece in just about every way possible, but it really did not leave me feeling or thinking about any specific. Even with that in mind, my only real complaint would be the length. It took me six or seven viewings to make it through the whole thing. Even though I liked the film a lot, this seems like a rather large commitment. In most ways, though, the film is impeccable. The story, characters, acting, style, etc are all great. Despite the length I was never bored. To go back to the begining, the only reason I cannot rave is because I'm not totally sure what to rave about. The film is fascinating, yes; but to what end? Idk, maybe it truly lacked focus or maybe I'm being obtuse. Either way, despite some minor flaws Un Prophet would still be a 'must see' film.
- neverteaseaweasel, Friday, September 24, 2010
With French, Spanish and Portuguese audio tracks all this movie needed for me was an English audio track. Really good movie... but depending on subtitles is a little to distracting... otherwise - GREAT MOVIE!! Tahar Rahim has a great acting career ahead of him.
- Tomassgringo, Tuesday, August 24, 2010