A Prophet Review – Awesome Prison Drama

Schmucks, we ain’t talking of the Prophet here but A Prophet.


Nein? Dann halt deine klappe.

Blessing our good fortune and thanking Bollywood, Kollywood, Tollywood et al for not releasing any films lately, we headed for Philadelphia yesterday for some Chaat and to watch the French movie A Prophet.

While the Chaat at Desi Chaat House was so-so, the movie A Prophet was so outstanding that we resolved to buy the DVD when it debuts.

At its most basic, A Prophet is a prison drama.

And not since Shawshank Redemption have we seen such a brilliant prison film.

Simply awesome, folks.

More than a Prison Film
A Prophet
director Jacques Audiard’s name may not resonate with many.

The recipient of multiple awards in his native France, A Prophet is Audiard’s fifth film. You may rest assured that we’ll watch his previous films and maybe even review ’em here.

Movie buffs may also recollect that A Prophet was one of only five films nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Oscars ceremony earlier this month (unfortunately, A Prophet was pipped to the post by the Spanish film El secreto de sus ojos (Argentina).

But A Prophet is more than just  a prison drama.

The film is also a richly layered gangster film tightly knotted into the tapestry of the prison story and its violent dramatis personae.

At the center of the film are the young Malik El Djebena (played to great elan by the young Tahar Rahim) and the old Corsican crime boss César Luciani (amazingly portrayed by Niels Arestrup).

While most kids spend their formative years in school, El Djebena is schooled in crime and wastes his early years in juvenile detention facilities and moves to a regular prison at the beginning of the film on a six-year-sentence.

Of course, life in the adult prison is no piece of cake for the young El Djebena, who is soon attacked and his sneakers stolen.

Ah, the theft of the sneakers is only a harbinger of the further ordeals that lie ahead of him. Soon, El Djebena is ordered by Luciani to kill another inmate Reyeb if he wants to survive in the prison and live under his protection.

So, does El Djebena suck Reyeb’s dick for some hash or does he kill him as ordered by the Corsican thug to save himself?

For the young El Dejebana, who can’t even read and write, life in the prison is a hard road and the choices he has to make are harder.

The years move by, the Corsican numbers go down and the Arab presence increases in the prison.

We won’t spoil your enjoyment of this wonderful movie by revealing too many details.

All we’ll hint is that El Djebena too evolves in the prison and, yes, commits more crimes, both inside and outside when he goes out on short leave.

The movie proceeds at a furious pace, depicting in all its brutality the horrors of the prison system with the corruption of the staff, the crimes plotted inside and carried out both outside and inside, the deep-rooted European racism against Arabs and hatred of Muslims and more.

As one of the Corsican prisoners spits out in a moment of anger about the Arabs:

If they stopped thinking  with their balls, they would have evolved.

Folks, A Prophet is a lovely film. One that restores our faith in cinema as a medium of entertainment and one we promise you’ll enjoy immensely.

The story is gripping, the photography captivating and the acting so bewitching. There’s not a single dull second in the entire movie.

What more can one ask from a movie.

Fear not, this French movie comes with English subtitles.

Go ahead, give A Prophet the miss if you abhor excellent movies.

A Prophet is in limited release in the U.S. (Philadelphia, New Jersey, NYC, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC and San Diego) but we doubt it’ll ever make it to India.

7 Responses to "A Prophet Review – Awesome Prison Drama"

  1. The Mahatma   March 25, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Music 6 is closed for comments. So posting here.

    One of my all time favorites.. probably the first rock music video I have ever seen .. instantly fell in love with it.

    This version is also amusing (cleavage doesn’t hurt)

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Sorry about the comments being closed for Music 6. Dunno why it happened. Fixed.

    Watched both videos.

    The first was good. The second reminded us of the lyrics:

    But I’m a creep
    I’m a weirdo
    What the hell am I doing here?
    I don’t belong here

    BTW, the videos substitute the word ‘very’ for ‘f*cking.’ Is the F word verboten at YouTube?

    • The Mahatma   March 25, 2010 at 10:31 am

      Looks like I am back in the clear. This one didn’t go to spam, I suppose.

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      Neither of them went into the black hole.

    • The Mahatma   March 25, 2010 at 11:38 am

      Not a youtube issue.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMJOZ5GGm5A
      has the f**king version intact. Did you know this song already (How did you know about the “f**king” version? )

      I pasted the pussified American radio/tv version (didn’t realize it)

      Radiohead wasn’t thrilled about that.

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      No, we were not aware of the song earlier. Just looked up the lyrics on a lark and realized there was some censoring going on here.

  2. unknownvirus   March 26, 2010 at 5:40 am

    fell asleep while watching it.. 🙂 probably because watched Franics Ford Coppola’s Tetro before it.. Nevertheless, will watch it again this weekend along with El secreto de sus ojos.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    El secreto de sus ojos looks interesting too. Will watch when it hits Netflix.

    Watched another French crime film last night The Crimson Rivers (Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel).

  3. unknownvirus   March 26, 2010 at 5:53 am

    BTW.. saw A Mulher Invisível, a brazilian chick flick..kinda ok.. good movie to take that office flame whom you were eyeing all these days for a date.. 😉

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Going by the IMDB summary, the film looks interesting.

  4. unknownvirus   March 26, 2010 at 8:43 am

    have u guys reviewed the shutter island yet?

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Never got around to watching it. Still playing around here.

  5. rakeshbaba   April 12, 2010 at 7:29 am

    have u watched green zone

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    No, skipped it.

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