Malik, played with twitchy intensity by Tahar Rahim, is a fascinating character. The film begins with his incarceration, and at first he's a complete cipher. When César, a powerful Sicilian inmate (Niels Arestrup), forces him to murder another prisoner, Malik's own ambitions come into focus. He seduces a witness and slices his throat with a razor blade concealed in his cheek.
A Prophet is raw stuff, violent and unforgiving. Audiard's tale of a criminal education has invited comparisons with Brian De Palma's Scarface, but A Prophet has none of Scarface's operatic flourishes. Instead, we find ourselves enmeshed in prison yard beatings, backseat shootings, and the politics of hash trafficking to such an immersive degree that by the movie's end, you're not quite sure whether you've witnessed someone descend into hell or climb some kind of bloody throne.
A Prophet is playing in theaters now. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Best Foreign Language Film at the BAFTA awards, and is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards.
More About 'A Prophet'
'A Prophet' Credits
Directed by: Jacques Audiard
Produced by: Pascal Caucheteux, Martine Cassinelli
Running Time: 2 hrs. 29 min.
Release Date: February 26th, 2010 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, sexual content, nudity, language and drug material. Distributors: Sony Pictures Classics