A quote on the box describes A Prophet as ''Scarface meets the Godfather''; I think a more accurate description would be Scarface meets The Shawshank redemption. An even more accurate description still would be Scarface meets Scum.
The story follows a young man, thrown into Jail at the tender age of 19 - rejected by most of the prison gangs he eventually finds a home of sorts amongst a group of Mafioso; who tolerate him rather than embrace him. He spends his time doing chores for the gang and cultivating his mind, before eventually rising to power for himself.
As you'd imaging there are some rather brutal scenes in this film, but it is not through violence our hero rises to power. It's more through clever navigation of prison politics and knowing when to pick a fight and with who. Violence is not the main thrust here. The film is far cleverer than that, and you'll really have to watch and pay attention to understand what's going on.
Both I and my flat mate were glued to the TV last night as this epic unfolded - cursing the fact that we couldn't pull our eyes away or switch it off, despite its 155minute running time keeping us up well past our bedtime. The story, in this sense also, is just like scarface - epic - spanning many years and taking its time to unfold.
The way the story is told is excellent - with plans being set in motion and names dropped well in advance of exciting outcomes and anything happening - and I suspect it'll be even better on a second viewing. The acting is excellent, and you really like, admire, and feel for the star as his predicaments arise one after the other. You can taste the tension, and moments - particularly at the start - are terrifying, as you try to imagine what on earth you'd do if put in his situation.
I've given this film 4 stars - although it is equally deserving of 5 - I wouldn't argue with anyone who gave it 5, but for me the reality of the way it was shot and acted just meant it lacked something for me when it came to viewing pleasure. It was like watching real life and not a film - so in that sense, it wasn't as enjoyable for me as it could have been. Never the less - I thought it was great and would really recommend it to anyone thinking of buying it. I'll probably watch it again very soon, knowing what to expect, and then come back and change my score to 5 - but for now it remains a 4. I know my flat mate would have given it a 5 stars. After 15 minutes he was in awe of it.
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