by Joanna Orland
Buzz, hype, awards, praise… French film A Prophet has been a hot topic amongst the Foreign Film buffs for quite a while now. It was the winner of this year’s Grand Prix at Cannes as well as having won the Best Film award at the London Film Festival. It was also nominated for Best Foreign Language film at the Golden Globes, losing to Germany’s The White Ribbon. Lead actor Tahar Rahim has also been acknowledged for his gripping performance with a BAFTA Orange Rising Star nomination, and there’s still the Oscars to come!!!
A Prophet is good. It’s really good. It’s gritty, dark, violent, a perfect character study and a harsh crime story to boot. The story follows inmate Malik (Tahar Rahim) from age 19 during his six years of prison condemnation. He arrives friendless and vulnerable, but soon finds himself drawn into the violent gang warfare of prison life. Malik is taken under the wing of a big Corsican mob boss and initiated into the criminal ranks. This story follows his journey and his character.
Whilst the story was enthralling, characters intense and mood dark, the only flaw that I found with A Prophet was its sheer length. There were some bits of the film the viewer could have done without, and coming in at just over 2.5 hours, the length of this film is giving LOTR a run for its money! Not ever fully losing interest, there were points about 2 hours in that audience members started to shuffle and squirm, but with 30-60 minutes less footage, this film could have been perfection. It’s still worth sitting through the extra minutes to experience such a classic crime drama, so please don’t let this bit put you off.
A Prophet = A Masterpiece. Just make sure you pee before you get settled in.