A young French-Arab offender rises through the ranks of the prison hierarchy to become a drug runner and enforcer for Corsican mobsters by playing both sides of the racial divide.
This highly effective and intelligent prison drama by auteur Jacques Audiard is an extremely gritty examination of a young man who has no control of his own life and haunted by the murder he was forced to commit to prove his loyalty to the criminals to whom he is unwillingly allied. The performances are all top notch but it is Tahar Rahim’s superb central performance that draws you into this grim and seedy world that shows crime as far from a glamorous activity, rather a ruthless dog eat dog crucible of ugly, vicious men perpetrating ugly, vicious acts. The DVD cover is plastered with quotes from lazy reviewers comparing it to Scarface and The Godfather, but A Prophet has little in common with those films; its tone and style for me was rather more reminiscent of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher trilogy.
It’s simply a smart, well directed and brilliantly performed prison bound drama that will probably be a little too dark for some tastes but is one of the best examples of its kind for many years.