Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 31st January, 2010
When I was a film critic in Belgium in the 1970s, I used to see five films a week in the various distributors’ screening rooms, whereas these days I am lucky if I get to five films a year. Journalism and politics combined leave little time for ‘normal’ activities. But I was lucky in my first 2010 cinematic outing, as I was taken this evening to see Jacques Audiard’s ‘Le Prophete’, a complex and compelling portrayal of a young Arab Frenchman’s graduation as hardman (yet still with a heart) in the violent world of a prison largely controlled by members of a Corsican mafia. Though gory in parts, the violence is never gratuitous and fascinatingly the story and acting are handled in such a way that the viewer remains concerned for and attached to the central character, Malik (Tahar Rahim), even after he starts commiting terrible murders as part of his survival strategy in the jungle into which he has been thrust. Niels Arestrup is brilliant in the supporting role of the Corsican Big Cheese. The film has already deservedly picked up a number of awards at Cannes and elsewhere and is being predicted for several Oscars. A marvellous testament to the ongoing vigour and artistic creativity of French cinema.