A Prophet 2009

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(78) IMDb 7.9/10
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Graphicallly violent, BAFTA-winning prison drama from acclaimed French director Jacques Audiard ('Read My Lips', 'The Beat That My Heart Skipped'). Sentenced to six years in a brutal French prison, 19-year-old petty criminal Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim) soon realises he has to learn the ropes if he is to survive. With the inmates mostly members of either Corsican or Arab gangs, Malik finds himself having to carry out a series of brutal rites of passage as the leader of the prison's Corsican gang Cesar Luciani (Niels Arestrup) orders him to carry out a number of 'missions' aimed at proving his allegiance. As Malik rises to the challenges he is set, gaining respect from his peers, and with his confidence and power growing, he begins to develop his own plans, placing him on a collision course with his gang boss.

Starring:
Hichem Yacoubi, Gilles Cohen
Rental Formats:
DVD, Blu-ray

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_18_and_over
Runtime 2 hours 35 minutes
Starring Hichem Yacoubi, Gilles Cohen, Adel Bencherif, Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Reda Kateb
Director Jacques Audiard
Genres Crime, Drama
Studio ELEVATION
Rental release 7 June 2010
Main languages French
Subtitles English
Original title Un prophete
Discs
  • Feature ages_18_and_over
Runtime 2 hours 35 minutes
Starring Hichem Yacoubi, Gilles Cohen, Adel Bencherif, Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Reda Kateb
Director Jacques Audiard
Genres Crime, Drama
Studio ELEVATION
Rental release 7 June 2010
Main languages French
Subtitles English
Original title Un Prophète

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 78 people found the following review helpful By The Truth TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Aug 2010
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Jun 2010
Format: DVD
This is a long, long film but one that uses every second to trace the development of its petty crook hero through to, well, I'll let you find out where to. In an odd way it is a hymn to education, multi-culturalism, and negotiation but (in this case) in the service of criminal entrepreneurship. British viewers need to know from the start that the main gang is Corsican because you may not pick this up unless you are listening to the accents or the news item about Sarkozy. It has plenty of gore but at heart is a film about using brain rather than brawn. An engaging film though not in the same vein as La Trou or La Balance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Movie Guy TOP 100 REVIEWER on 18 July 2013
Format: DVD
Malik (Tahar Rahim) goes to prison. He is of mixed French-Arab descent and can speak both languages. He is recruited (forced) to do a job for Cesar (Niels Arestrup) a Corsican crime boss. He works his way up, but his loyalty is to himself. He also does some "free lance" crime work for the Arabs to the dismay of Cesar. This results in problems but Malik has the street smarts to navigate through the whole thing.

This is one of the better prison crime dramas I have seen. It seemed extremely realistic, although to be honest I have never been to a French prison. The subtitles wasn't so much as an issue as was the length of the film: 155 minutes. I was well into the film before I realized how long it was. If you use the first fast forward speed the subtitles still appear.

F-bomb, sex, nudity (male and female) some homosexual references, killing and blood.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By mancheeros on 14 Feb 2011
Format: Blu-ray
The FHM quote on the box which likens A PROPHET to Scarface and The Godfather is quite simply ridiculous. This French prison film is a million miles from the star-studded world of Hollywood method acting. Instead, director Jacques Audiard goes for something a little more beguiling and poetic with an almost entirely unknown cast of actors. That's right, a poetic prison movie. He achieves this by inserting dream sequences and other non-realistic devices which steer the action away from generic prison film formulas. While A PROPHET has its testosterone-fuelled moments of brutual violence, it spends as much time slowly building up a complex identity for its main character Malik who is as vulnerable as he is violent. We see him walking the tightrope between the Corsican and Arab factions in the prison, learning the art of survival in a violent environment where to be an outsider - which is essentially what he is - is to be a victim. The film was awarded a major prize at the Cannes film festival in 2009, which is more than a little surprising since it's not a major artistic achievement; nevertheless, it's a darn sight more thought-provoking than most prison movies. The blu-ray transfer is pretty good too.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By S. Meadows on 3 Jan 2011
Format: DVD
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.
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