Films like Un Prophete don't come about very often, but when they do, they can hardly afford to be missed. I didn't really know much about this film as I picked it up on the basis of a very strong recommendation from a lot of people, with a few likenesses banded about comparing it to The Godfather and Scarface. It was only when I read the comment from FHM on the box that I realised these comparisons were hardly original, seeing as they were written on the box.
I don't think that Un Prophete is adequately described by those similes, as it stands up perfectly well on its own two feet. The most important fact that isn't obvious from those recommendations is that this is essentially a prison drama. Instead of telling an epic Disney-style story of The Shawshank Redemption, this film owes far more to the grimy realism of Taxi Driver, complete with the violence that is enough to make most people squirm a little in a couple of places early on in the film.
The whole film is a masterpiece to behold. I wouldn't necessarily call it a film to enjoy; it's not the sort of thing to watch with a bowl of popcorn in between a couple on a romantic night in. The acting leads are understatedly brilliant. I almost didn't notice the acting, simply because they drew me right into their world (even though one of the lead characters does look very much like Antony Worral Thompson). Every time I though the film was about to run out of steam, the director manages to pace the film perfectly, keeping me interested and immersed into the Machievellian power play being drawn out by the two leads, watching the shift in power, which culminates in a brilliant scene at the end, which has no audible dialogue but whose images convey flawlessly the shift in power and the usurping of the king.