Derek Winnert

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This article was written on 20 Sep 2013, and is filled under Reviews.

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A Prophet [Un prophète] ***** (2009, Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif) – Classic Movie Review 252

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This scaldingly great 2009 French prison crime drama is another masterwork from Jacques Audiard, the director of The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005) and Rust and Bone (2012).

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It won the Bafta for Best Foreign Language Film and was Oscar and Golden Globe nominated, as well as winning nine Césars, the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes and the London Film Critics Film of the Year award.

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Tahar Rahim sizzles the screen as Malik El Djebena, an illiterate 19-year-old French Arab prisoner, sent to a French jail, where he comes under the protection of César Luciani (Niels Arestrup), the brutal Godfather of the jail’s dominant Corsican gang. After a baptism by fire (he has to hide a razor blade in his mouth and slit a man’s throat), the boy becomes the mob boss’s most trusted confidant but develops his own plans for survival.

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Smooth and subtle, Arestrup is wonderfully chilling as the man who could give Don Corleone a run for his money. This devastating film burns with mega-kilowatts of electrifying power. It’s long at 155 minutes, but it doesn’t seem it, and director Jacques Audiard (who co-writes with Nicolas Peufeillit) makes every second count.

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Audiard went on to win the 2015 Palme d’Or for Dheepan.

© Derek Winnert 2013 Classic Film Review 252 derekwinnert.com

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