Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

A Prophet

A Prophet
Tahar Rahim and Niels Arestrup

Rated: R violence, sexual content, nudity, language and drug material
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 26, 2010 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics

Dense, difficult and intense, but always riveting, this drama may parallel the rise of many figures of more inspirational walks of life.

A Prophet (in French, Arabic and Corsican) is dynamically directed by Jacques Audiard and stars a bravura Tahar Rahim and Niels Arestrup. For some, it should have copped the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language film having just done so at the BAFTA fesitivities.

Rahim's Malik (part Corsican, part Arabic) has been incarcerated for much of his pre-adult years for arguably a minor offense and is now be transferred to another (adult) penitentiary.

Arestrup's Cesar is the brutal ducat of the Corsican group that really shakes the 19-year-old innocent to the core.

But, from his varied heritage he gets more economically-minded thanks in part to an ally, Reyeb (Hichem Yacoubi). And, as the inexorable years pass his connections with nomads and Muslims pay off in his ascension in the underworld. One really feels what Malik is going through when required to eliminate a man (Adel Bencherif) for the first time.

The filmmaking has a stream-of-consciousness and explosiveness as Audiard viably makes Malik a portal to the titular presence he represents in a modern way for those knowing such a volatile dichotomy and instability going back to ancient times.

A Prophet has an amazingly hardened quality to it, like the layered characterization evinced by Rahim who has a soulfulness and empathy that comes to the surface even with all the lurid, fearsomeness he thrives on.

Even if the plotting slightly abates as a unified whole, the sprawling power extends from Malik's time from prison and the less visceral contrast which he develops with Reyeb, his wife and child, as Yacoubi and Leila Bekhti complement Rahim admirably.

The extended, startlingly violent proceedings still have a haunting, insinuating wrenching quality which Rahim makes something personal through the physical and emotional wounds society has beaten into him. Audiard and his crew with gritty, authentic craft contributions makes the toll through the judicial ranks a tense internalization with sweeping fervor.

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