on October 20, 2010
The first review is bang on. I too for some reason identified to some extent with the protagonist (maybe in part because I kind of looked like him when I was younger; and maybe because I've experienced feeling like an outsider).
Yes, it's a prison movie (reminded me to a small extent of HBO's "Oz" series), but it's more than that. It's also a gangster film, and combines genre themes of the protagonist's rise from the absolute bottom to the top with that of revenge. Because the protagonist is forced upon the threat of death into the viscious ways of prison life, we don't have an automatic dislike of him as we do with most of the other criminals. In fact, we see his own self disgust and inner torment in regards to his very first act of brutality - and it's an act of incredibly graphic horror and violence that jars the viewer. Not that it's excessive - just that it's shown in such a realistic way, we feel the victim's anguish and the protagonist's own horror at what he's forced to do.
The acting is absolutely first rate. Tahar Rahim in the lead role is phenomenal; and Niels Arestrup as his mentor / tormentor is a pleasure to watch. The supporting cast is quite strong - there is no weak link.
This film provides a unique take on some common genres and themes; so unique from my personal perspective that I can't say that it really falls into any genre at all. Good story, great acting and directing, some very interesting editing, and very entertaining (as long as you can take the graphic violence). One of the best I've seen in the past couple of years.
on August 14, 2010
Un Prophète, the last film by french director Jacques Audiard brings a small revolution in genre films. It is at the same time what we could call a prison movie as well as a gangster movie. The codes of the two genres, both present in one movie mix perfectly and make an epic journey into pain and glory.
The filmaking itself brings the spectator very close to the principal character's feelings, a young french-arab who gets in prison with an innocent state and who will soon become one of the keymembers of the jail. The utilization of the camera gives to the film's esthetic a very realistic touch that makes the hardcore violence even more intensive.
The experimental use of the montage, the delicious dialogues and the characters are some other points that makes "Un Prophète", a movie that hasn't any weaknesses, and bring at the same time its director to the highest level of creation. After the stunning "To beat my heart skipped", Audiard made a true masterpiece that really takes the genre to a new step in art form.
Now let's see what will be his next one.
on February 15, 2014
Most of our French group preferred not to see this, usually turning it off. But, I watched it once and then parts of it over again. I felt it was presented in true fashion, especially showing how one most often doesn't get rehabilitated in prison but rather get educated in the wrong and negative way.
on February 10, 2011
A Prophet lets the viewer experience what it's like to descend into the prison underworld (and it isn't pretty.) Director Audiard does a fantastic job of presenting this brutal environment, the power struggles, opposing forces, and corruption. The film is a gripping combination of the prison, gangster, and crime genres. The film is long, and meanders a bit, but I like long movies, so I don't see this as a flaw. The acting is excellent all around. Be warned that there is plenty of graphic violence.
I think basically this is an intriguing movie about life inside a prison and how a young Arabian French guy "moves up" in the prisoner hierarchy. The problem I found with the whole thing is how slow it moved (OK, it's a French film so that's probably unavoidable) but also how many scenes are shot in virtual darkness.
The DVD has virtually no good extras at all although it has a slew of deleted scenes, rehearsal footage (super yawn!), screen tests, a trailer and a commentary track with the director, co-writer and lead actor.
Where I ultimately felt let down was by the lead actor. I never really took to the guy. At the beginning I felt his performance was riveting but once the cheesy moustache arc began, it sort of lost me.
I do think this is worth your viewing but its portrayal of Corsican French vs. Muslim immigrants in the prison I thought lacked bite. I get what the screenwriter was trying to say about "modern" France through the eyes of its prisons but I don't think it worked as well as I think a crime movie about life outside a prison would.