A Prophet (18)
Directed by Jacques Audiard
Written by Thomas Bidegain, Jacques Audiard
Screening at from 22 January
This is a top notch prison drama set in present-day France.
The central character Malik El Djebena, impressively played by Tahar
Rahim, is incarcerated for six years for a crime which is not revealed.
Born in France to Arab parents, he catches the attention of an elderly
Corsican gangster, Cesar Luciana (Niels Aresstrup) who has a powerful
hold on proceedings in the jail, with the prison guards at his beck and
He offers him protection form the other inmates if he can kill another
Arab prisoner, Reyeb, who is set to testify against Luciania in a forthcoming
Djebena performs the deadly deed - he has no choice - if not he would
have been slain himself - but is constantly haunted by the presence of
the dead man in his cell.
The scene where he is killed by a razor hidden in the mouth of Djebena
is particularly gruesome in a film liberally adorned with violence.
The bond between Luciana and Djebena grows ever stronger, with the Corsican
giving him more control of his business affairs, for example trafficking
large consignments of hashish, both inside and outside the prison - Djebena
is allowed to leave the confines of jail one day a week to help him acclimatise
to normal life. Inevitably it was Luciania who arranged this with the
But this special privilege given to Djebena backfires on the gangmaster
with deadly effects.
The once shy and reticent Djebena grows ever more confident in his dealings
with the crooked allies of Luciania on his days away from the prison,
unbeknown to his mentor.
The final scene where Luciania's stranglehold of power and authority
is wrested away from him and transferred to Djebena is a potent piece
of cinema. The king is dead, long live the king.