“A Prophet,” is a remarkable fictional film about some of the hard facts of life. Everything from the screenplay to execution is etched out to near perfection. Jacques Audiard brings to life the compelling voice of an “Arab” man in a French prison.
Malik El Djebena (Tahir Rahim) is a young petty criminal who is tried as an adult, for the first time, and sent to prison. He quickly learns that he cannot live out his sentence in silence and must adapt to the two communities, he does not belong to, within. Audiard lends his strong sense of direction and voice to the reality of the duality of Malik’s world.
Tahar Rahim, Malik, guides the audience through this rather confusing world. Rahim’s awkward presence resonates well with his character and audience. As fact after fact of the world around him becomes present to him Rahim’s awkward presence soon becomes his strength. He becomes a rather unlikely hero in a world where he is often depicted as an observer.
Unfortunately that is also where the flaw of the film presents itself. As much as I may have enjoyed the refreshing storytelling, it was also a little too much work. As a removed audience member it is sometimes difficult to keep pace with the extensive amount of information packed into the final chapters of the film. Audiard created Malik’s world with precision and pace, however the turnover is rapid, hard to follow, and overall rushed.
Nonetheless what resonates is the rather telling story of a prophet in prison. “A Prophet,” is one academy award nominated film that is truly worth the hype.