Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Indie Review: A Prophet (2009)
'A Prophet': A Prison Saga With Its Own Dsitinctive Voice That Allows It To Reach Out Into A Second Genre
It seems that I have had the best luck with prison movies lately, like Hunger and Starred Up. Both those films, along with the subject of this review, offer their own distinctive takes on prison life. A Prophet, however, is able to capture prison life while becoming a unique mobster drama.
A Prophet follows the story of a young convict named Malik (Tahar Rahim) who has been moved into an adult prison divided by Corsican and Muslim gangs. However, as he must figure out how to make it through his sentence, he finds himself under the wing of Corsican mafia leader Cesar Luciani (Niels Arestrup).
I'll start off with the lead performance by Tahar Rahim. Rahim just commands the screen as he undergoes an intense yet silent arc as his character goes from timid juvenile to fiercely loyal henchman to ring leader. I liken his dynamic portrayal to Al Pacino's in the first Godfather. He is just that impressive. I would also like to give a shoutout to Niels Arestrup for his equally layered turn as Cesar, who rules his prison wing with an iron fist yet whenever he looks out his window, he reveals how in reality, he is a sad lonely man.
Much like the two main performances, the story has plenty of layers to it. It manages to not only deal with prison life, but weave in themes involving heirarchy, the mafia, and even division between religion and heritage as Malik increases his power within the prison by going back and forth between joining the Corsican and Muslim sides. I feel that because of these layers within the story, this prison film is able to successfully have its own identity.
Overall, A Prophet is a hard-edged prison saga about using heirarchy to survive that features a splendid lead turn from Tahar Rahim. The performances are spectacular, the storyline is incredibly layered, and this film is one to be ranked among both the best prison and crime dramas.
Would I Recommend It?:
Yes, but not to everybody. If you don't mind reading subtitles and if you like mobster dramas such as The Godfather, then I would highly suggest giving this a watch.