'A Prophet': A Harsh Yet Wistfully Poetic French Prison Drama from Jacques Audiard
“A Prophet” (Un Prophète) is a harsh yet wistfully poetic French film from 2009 about an illiterate Algerian named Malik (Tahar Rahim) incarcerated in a French prison and quickly caught up between rival Arab and Corsican factions. Without religious affiliation or allegiance, Malik is subsequently forced to prove his worth to the Corsican brotherhood, thereby finding himself under the protection of the Corsicans and their fierce leader, Luciani (Niels Arestrup). The bulk of the film's storyline involves the push-and-pull Malik is caught up in between the disparate clans, as he slowly gains power and influence in the prison yard and the larger criminal community beyond. His growing empowerment and ultimate self-realization as the titular prophet serves as the emotional cornerstone of the film's narrative framework. Directed and co-written by Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Rust and Bone) and winner of the Grand Prix Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, “A Prophet” is as much a galvanizing prison drama as it is an existential odyssey for one young man in search of purpose and identity, It's a starkly visceral and memorable experience that paints a thrillingly portrait of human reclamation.
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