A Prophet (Jacques Audiard – 2009) A-

When Malik El Djebena first enters prison for his 7 year sentence he is scared and confused. He even tries to smuggle in some money in his old pair of shoes. When he leaves he is a seasoned criminal with skills perfectly suited for running an organized crime syndicate. How transforms himself is a fantastic story of survival in the prison system. He is an Arab but in the prison hierarchy he manages to align himself, by a series of coercions, crimes and opportunity, with the Corsican mob. It does not matter that they regard him as a “Dirty Arab” who is only there to make them tea or that his own kind see him as a traitor. Malik is on team Malik and he takes care of himself. The setting is perfect with the cold walls and washed colors. The dynamic of the prison operations, the pecking order and the whole daily leave program is also fascinating. While it does not shy away from violence, A Prophet relies much more on smart storytelling and excellent performances to keep us engaged and caring.

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