High praise indeed, but now see what we thought of it... A Prophet (18)
Starring: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup
Director: Jacques Audiard
Film length: 155 minutes
Trailer: Watch it here
What¹s it all about? France¹s Jacques Audiard has been steadily building audiences with films that combine a crime setting with vivid characters and emotional depth. Now the director of Read My Lips and The Beat That My Heart Skipped presents a touching prison drama that evolves into a riveting gangster thriller. When illiterate, vulnerable 19-year-old French Arab Malik (Tahar Rahim) arrives for his first spell in grown-up jail, the dominant Corsican gang make him an offer her can¹t refuse: kill a fellow Arab inmate, who they need eliminating, or be killed. By doing so, Malik earns their protection, and a low-status position in their gang, but over the course of
his sentence his ambitions and abilities evolve.
What¹s good about it? It¹s a gripping story with contemporary resonance, which expertly engages your sympathy for a character that becomes untethered to morality. Audiard is brilliantly served by his leading man: newcomer Tahar Rahim, who since A Prophet¹s Cannes premiere has won Best Actor at the European Film Awards, and been nominated for our own BAFTA Orange Rising Star.
What¹s not so good? Some critics have quibbled over the odd implausibility, while anyone averse to either violence or subtitles should avoid. A running time of two-and-a-half hours might put off a few, but be assured that the minutes fly by.
Verdict: A Prophet was pipped to the Cannes Palme D¹Or by Michael Haneke¹s White Ribbon, instead scooping up the Grand Prix Du Jury (second prize). Most audiences would place the films in a different order. Although it¹s only January, we¹ll be surprised if we see a better movie this year, in any language. And unless this turns out to be a debut fluke, Rahim is set to become the next major French actor: don¹t miss the birth of a star in the making.
Rating: 10 out of 10